The Chichester Festival revival of the classic gambling musical GUYS AND DOLLS arrived in the West End via Manchester and Birmingham to the Savoy Theatre last December before it continues its journey uptown to the Phoenix. Along the way the Gordon Greenberg directed production has gathered great reviews and sell out crowds. The Guardian bylined its review with “outstanding leads (Sophie Thompson, Jamie Parker, David Haig and Siubhan Harrison) and fizzing choreography from Carlos Acosta.”
The production has been nominated for six Olivier Awards, including choreography and nods for Sophie, Jamie and David, who are not transferring to the Phoenix when it starts again on 19 March. I sent this sketch to the Savoy earlier in the run but for some reason it came back ‘return to sender’ ( I know, I feel a tune coming on… wrong musical) and unopened. So I did it the old fashioned way, in person at the stage door yesterday as the central quartet headed in for the matinee and they were all more than happy to graph it.
Clybourne Park was written by Bruce Norris in 2010 and received its UK premiere at the Royal Court Theatre in London, directed by Dominic Cooke and featuring Martin Freeman and Sophie Thompson.
It explores the fault line between race and property. In the first half it’s 1959, Russ and Bev are selling their desirable two bed home at a low price. This enables the first black family to move into the neighbourhood causing ripples of discontent amongst the cosy white urbanites of Clybourne Park. In the second half it’s 2009, the same property is being bought by Lindsey and Steve, whose plan to raze the house and start again is met with a similar response.
It won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony and Oliver for Best New Play.
Martin (Russ) signed my sketch at the British Independent Film Awards at the Old Billingsgate Fish Market and Sophie signed at the Wyndham’s Theatre stage door after it transferred in 2011, without Martin and Steffan Rhodri.
One of my favourite actresses… no, people is Sophie Thompson (younger sister of Emma… another one of my favourites). Many will know her from Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. In fact, what British performer isn’t in that franchise? Or even Eastenders for the soap slaves?
I met Sophie after a performance of the racial satire Claybourne Park at Wyndham’s Theatre and asked her to sign a sketch. She loved it so much I gave her a copy. A week later she sent me a lovely thank you note. Her handwriting and ‘spiral’ signature is very distinctive.
She has an enchanting, bubbly personality that makes you want to spend more time with her. She could probably turn you down and you would still feel happy.
In July 2012 I did another sketch of Sophie, along with Miranda Raison and John Hefferman from the Donmar Warehouse production of the critically acclaimed The Physicists. Miranda, with an equally infectious personality, signed for me while she was in Anne Boleyn at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2010. She is best remembered as Jo Portman in the TV series Spooks.
I asked Sophie if she would kindly sign the sketch and ask Miranda and John to do the same. Sure as eggs, she completed the task and returned it along with copies for each to keep, and along with her customary and welcomed complimentary note.