The legendary actor, writer, director, producer, composer and all round funny man, Mel Brooks is 91 and still going strong. He’s in London with the musical version of his classic 1974 film YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, which after a short UK tour, debuted on the West End at the Garrick Theatre last week. The original Broadway production ran at the Hilton Theatre from November 2007 to January 2009, collecting three Tony nominations. Mel is one of only twelve people who have won the EGOT winners of the four main annual American entertainment competitive category awards; the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. Mel also created and wrote one of my all time favourite TV shows, GET SMART with Buck Henry. He has been in London for a while with rehearsals and previews at the theatre, where he frequents most days, but I haven’t managed to catch-up with him yet, but did leave this sketch at his Hotel and it came back instantly, signed and dedicated.
Twenty-two year old American professional golfer Lexi Thompson is currently ranked Number 3 in the world. When she was 12 she was the youngest golfer ever to qualify for the US Women’s Open and in 2011 she become the youngest winner of an LPGA Tournament collecting the Navistar LPGA Classic title at sixteen years of age. Four years later Lexi won her first Major at the Nabisco Championships. She also finished in the top three at two other majors in 2015 with a second at the Evian and a third at the PGA. I sent this drawing to Lexi at this year’s British Women’s Open at the Kingsbarnes Golf Links in Fife, Scotland and it came back signed.
Scottish songstress Sheena Easton made her West End debut this year as Dorothy Brock in the revival of the hit musical 42nd STREET at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane. The two-time Grammy Award winner has sold over 20 million records worldwide with Gold and Platinum albums in the US, Europe and Asia. She is the first and only artist to have top 5 hits in five different Billboard charts consecutively. Sheena has appeared on Broadway in MAN OF LA MANCHA and as Rizzo in GREASE. I left this sketch at the stage door and it came back signed and dedicated.
One of the nicest people in show biz is BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated English actor and director Andy Serkis. On screen he is unparalleled as a performance capture artist with classic computer- generated characters such as Gollum in the LORD OF THE RINGS and in THE HOBBIT trilogies, the great ape himself in KING KONG, Caesar in THE PLANET OF THE APES and Supreme Leader Snoke in STAR WARS. Andy is always fan-friendly and has time for everyone. He signed for me after a press conference for ALIEN:COVENANT at the Ham Yard Hotel in May this year.
Award-winning German operatic soprano Christiane Karg performed at London’s Wigmore Hall last weekend where I managed to get this sketch signed. The drawing is based on her role as Norina in DON PASQUALE at the Komische Opera in Berlin at the beginning of 2010.
The ‘colossus’ of British theatre, theatre, opera and film director Sir Peter Hall died this month. In their obituary, The Times wrote that he was “the most important figure in British theatre for half a century.”
Sir Peter ran the National theatre from 1973-1988 and founded the Royal Shakespearian Company in 1960. The National Theatre said that Sir Peter’s “influence on the artistic life of Britain in the 20th Century was unprecedented.
I had the pleasure of meeting Sir Peter on a few occasions at theatre press nights before he retired from public life in 2011. He was always a delight. In March 2010 he attended the opening night of PRIVATE LIVES at London’s Vaudeville Theatre, starring Kim Cattrall. After the show he went backstage and signed for me leaving via the stage door.
Celebrated British choreographer Christopher Wheeldon spotted Leanne Cope in the 2014 Royal Ballet Company’s production of SWAN LAKE and cast her as Lise Dassin, the lead in AN AMERICAN IN PARIS. It was a role she originated in the Broadway production, which has transferred to London’s West End and is currently running at the Dominion Theatre. After graduating in 2003 from the Royal Ballet School,Leanne progressed to First Artist six years later. Leanne kindly signed a drawing I did of her as Lise earlier in the year and did the same to this one of her from her Royal Ballet days last week.
Welsh actress Lisa Palfrey was appearing as Big Mama in the Young Vic’s West End production of Tennessee William’s CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF at the Apollo Theatre… until an emergency appendectomy cut short her performance last month. Initially understudy Kate Britain covered until Kiwi actress Kerry Fox stepped into the role until Lisa recovered. She signed this sketch for me a week before the unscheduled appendix removal.
English actor and singer Joe Millson was attracted back to the London stage by the script of Alexi Kaye Campbell’s APOLOGIA, which is currently running at the Trafalgar Studios until November. Joe plays both sons; the calm but troubled Simon and the thick-skinned banker Peter, who attend their mother’s (Stockard Channing) birthday, a matriarchal figure and famous art historian who has just published her memoirs neglecting to mention her them.
It was originally drafted for two actors but it was director, Jamie Lloyd’s innovation to use one. “It’s very light, easy-to-watch stuff, but leaves you with a punch in the gut,” said Joe in a recent interview. Theatre critic, Neil Dowden, writing his review in Exeunt wrote, “Joseph Millson excels in contrasting Peter’s self-confident directness with Simon’s subdued, more obliquely accusing manner.” I did suggest to Joe, while he was signing my sketch at the stage door, that they should be paying him double for the dual roles, an idea that appealed.
2016 was an exceptional year for German tennis star Angelique Kerber. She won two majors, beating world number one Serena Williams in the Australian Open and Karolina Pliskova in the US Open. She also reached the Wimbledon final, with Serena reversing the Australian result.
However she amassed enough ranking points to pass Serena and take over the top spot. At the Summer Olympics Angelique won the singles silver medal. Not surprisingly, she won the WTA Player of the Year and was nominated for the prestigious Laureus Sportswomen of the Year Award. I sent this drawing to Angelique at the Aegon International in Eastbourne earlier this year and was returned this week, from her German base, signed and dedicated.