Hollywood stars Sienna Miller and Jack O’Connell are attracting the critics attention and West End audiences in the Young Vic production of Tennessee William’s simmering Southern drama CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF at the Apollo theatre.
“Benedict Andrews radical update of the classic delivers emotional intensity shot through with humour- and a blistering performance from Jack O’Connell”, wrote Michael Billington in the intro to his Guardian review. The Telegraph’s Dominic Cavendish, who admitted he initially was going to write it off as a summer filler, saw the production and gave it four stars, adding, “Miller confirms she’s not just a pretty feline face… her Margaret is a hideously plausible portrait of a women putting on a grave face to hold back tears desolation.”
On a very wet Saturday lunchtime Sienna arrived at the stage door and signed for all who were waiting including my sketch, under the small covered doorway. Jack rides his bike, complete with helmet, so he flies in with no one recognising or stopping him. It took me a couple of return visits to figure this out, so last Saturday, when he did the same I managed to get his attention and his graph before he disappeared into the theatre and on stage for the matinee.
Dublin-born and Golden Globe nominated actor Colm Meaney has returned to the West End boards after a ten-year absence, playing plantation patriarch Big Daddy in Tennessee Williams’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. The Young Vic production directed by Benedict Andrews is currently playing the Apollo until October. Colm, known to Trekkies as Chief Petty Officer Miles O’Brien in STAT TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION and DEEP SPACE NINE.
Colm’s last London stage appearance was in Eugene O’Neill’s A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN opposite Kevin Spacey at The Old Vic in the Autumn of 2006. He signed this sketch of him as Big Daddy a few weeks ago at the stage door before a Saturday matinee.
Enda Walsh’s two-hander debut play DISCO PIGS is currently enjoying its 20th Anniversary revival at London’s Trafalgar Studios 2, directed by John Haidas. HARRY POTTER’S Evanna Lynch joins Irish actor Colin Campbell as ‘Runt’ and ‘Pig’, two teenagers born at the same time, on the same day and in the same hospital, who have been inseparable until their 17th birthdays when their cocooned world is destined for a head-on crash with reality.
Review Hub scored it 4 stars under the banner ‘Pig’s Fly’. I meet both Evanna and Colin at the stage door last weekend and we’re more than happy to sign and dedicate my sketch. The production ends this weekend.
Stockard Channing has made a successful return to the London stage after a ten year absence in Jamie Lloyd’s revival of Alexi Kaye Campbell’s family drama APOLOGIA at the Trafalgar Studios. The 73 year-old Tony and Emmy award winning actress plays the celebrated art historian, activist and ‘monstrous matriarch’ Kristin Miller who is at odds with her two sons and their partners who gather to celebrate her birthday. Central to the story is the debate about ‘bad’ sixties mothers and their abandoned-feeling offspring which surfaces when her recent memoir that omits her sons becomes a touchy subject. Quite brilliant,” wrote Ann Treneman in her Times review, Dominic Cavendish headlined his Telegraph review with “Stockard Channing is a contemptuous treat,” and ” Stockard Channing is in top form,” said Tom Wicker in The Stage.
I was very fortunate to see the play thanks to the generosity of Nick, a fellow ‘grapher, who I met at the stage door as we waited to meet Stockard prior to last Saturday’s performance. He had a spare comp ticket, which he kindly offered me. She popped out after the matinee to sign for us including this drawing and was very chatty and complimentary. So I got to see her on and off the stage – bonus!
The Award-winning THE GIRLS has just finished its West End run at the Phoenix Theatre. Based on the 2007 hit film CALENDAR GIRLS, this musical stage adaption was written by Take That’s Gary Barlow and Tim Firth who also scripted the film’s original screenplay based on a true story of a group of spirited, middle aged Yorkshire housewives who strip for a calendar to raise money for a cancer charity. I left this montage sketch of the cast-Joanna Riding, Claire Moore, Claire Machin, Sophie-Louise Dann, Michele Dotrice and Debbie Chazen- at the stage door and it came back signed in the final week. A UK tour is planned for next year.
British actor Peter Firth will be known to TV viewers as Sir Harry Pearce in the BBC spy series SPOOKS – the only cast member to appear in every episode of its ten series. My favourite role however was his stage and subsequent film appearance as the disturbed equine-worshipping teenager Alan Strang, who blinds the eyes of horses in Peter Shaffer’s EQUUS, which ran at the National Theatre in London in 1974 and transferred to Broadway the following year, earning him a Tony nomination.
In 1977 he reprised the role for the film adaption, opposite Richard Burton who played the psychiatrist Dysart attempting to find the root of Alan’s equine worship. He won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Academy Award. EQUUS is one of my favourite plays and I had the honour of meeting its author and the privilege of directing it in New Zealand many moons ago. I left this sketch of Peter as Alan with London agent and was very pleased to get it back signed.
British actress Pauline Collins rose to prominence as the maid Sarah Moffat in the popular TV series UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS during the early 70’s, but it was her portrayal of the title character in Willy Russell’s SHIRLEY VALENTINE that won her all the accolades.
Pauline played Shirley on stage and screen, originating the role with the West End production at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1988, reprising the part a year lateral the Booth Theatre on Broadway and in the film version. She won the Laurence Olivier, Tony and Drama Desk Awards for her theatrical performance and the BAFTA for her screen adaption as well as Oscar and Golden Globe nominations.
I left this drawing for Pauline at her London agents office for her to sign which she kindly did.
Nigerian-born British actor Chukwudi Iwuji (usually shortened to Chuk), was sent to an English boarding school at age 10 while his parents worked for the UN in Ethiopia. He studied economics at Yale University before going to drama school then returned to the UK and became a stalwart of the Royal Shakespeare Company. His one ambition was to play HAMLET with them, but that opportunity came last year when he played the Danish Prince at New York’s Public Theatre in a three-week run after a tour of prisons, homeless shelters and senior citizen’s venues. The previous year he was also in the Big Apple in Christopher Marlowe’s TAMBURLAINE THE GREAT at the Theatre for New Performance. Both roles were captured in my sketch which Chuk signed for me at the Barbican while he was appearing in OBSESSION opposite Jude Law.
English newcomer Clare Halse has been winning acclaim and applause for her performance in the pivotal role of Peggy Sawyer in the ‘mother of all showbiz musicals’, 42ND STREET at London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane. The Telegraph’s Dominic Cavendish gave the “achingly beautiful revival of an American classic” five stars and called Clare a “resplendent Peggy”.
Like her starry-eyed character, the nervous but enthusiastic new chorus girl, Clare who’s brief stage career includes stints in WICKED and SHREK said the 42ND STREET experience is “fun and also terrifying”. I just missed Clare at the stage door a few weekends ago so left it there and it came back signed.
From a humble background, the son of a poor immigrant, Danish masterchef Rene Redzepi rose to establish the best restaurant on the planet and become one of the world’s most influential chefs. Founded by Rene and Marc J. Blazer in 2003, the two-star Michelin restaurant NOMA had its origins in an old warehouse on the waterfront in central Copenhagen. It is a linguistic blend of the words NOrdisk (Nordic) and MAd (food), and has become responsible for the reinvention and refinement of new Nordic cuisine. It’s so popular and extremely difficult to get a booking, even the great Rick Stein couldn’t get a reservation when he was doing his TV doco on Copenhagen culinary delights.
“For me cooking is something that is completely transparent and without pretence that is honest and generous and has something true and original about it,” Rene said. In 2012 TIME magazine listed him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world and he appeared on its cover, citing the Dane as the ‘local produce hero’.
For Rene cooking is all about a sense of time and place. NOMA is not in London, Paris or New York, it’s in Copenhagen in Southern Scandinavia where most ingredients are from Sealand and Southern Sweden and follows the seasons. Initially NOMA was not a success as the food industry and critics ridiculed the unconvential dishes and ingredients.
Eventually that all changed. It become the decades greatest restaurant, winning the World’s Best Restaurant Award three years in a fow from 2010-2012 and again in 2014. NOMA served it ‘last supper’ on the original site in September 2016 and will reopen and reinvent itself as an urban farm on the out-skirts of the city later this year. In the meantime, Rene and his full team have gone NOMAdic, travelling the globe, creating pop-ups in places such as Sydney, Tokyo and Tulum Beach in Mexico, preaching the gospel of using local produce. I sent my sketch to the old address earlier this year, not realising NOMA had closed, but it must have eventually got to him, arriving back last week, signed and dedicated.