Drawing: Ophelia Lovibond as Elizabeth Barry in The Libertine

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This is the second sketch I drew of in-demand London actress with the memorable name, Ophelia Lovibond in her West End debut in the ‘sexually-charged masterpiece’ THE LIBERTINE. The Theatre Royal Bath production transferred to the Theatre Royal Haymarket for a limited season concluding earlier this month. Ophelia played 17th Century actress Elizabeth Barry opposite Dominic Cooper’s Earl of Rochester, Restoration England’s most notorious rake and pornographic poet.

Ophelia had signed my previous drawing early in the London run and I had this other one still in my folder when passing the theatre’s stage door after the final performance, where the cast were gathered with fans. I thought, why not and she was very complimentary about the second sketch and more than happy to sign it.

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Drawing: Lydia Piechowiak – Miss Giddy Heights

Lydia Piechowiak Drawing

English actor and burlesque artist Lydia Piechowiak is part of the cool cast of the Restoration romp THE LIBERTINE at London’s Theatre Royal Haymarket.
Lydia, whose surname is from her Polish ancestry is also known by her stage name, the intoxicating ‘Miss Giddy Heights.’

TimeOut calls her “The international burlesque Dynamo… shimmering from elegant to debauched at the drop of a feather fan,” ideal credentials for her current ensemble West End role. After completing a degree in TV, Film and Theatre from the University of Bristol Lydia studied at the Lee Strasberg Institute in New York before establishing her own theatre company Open Door Productions.

Recently seen in the film BRIDGET JONES’ BABY, Lydia also received rave reviews from theatre critics as the over-the-top refugee maid Mitizi in the UK tour of Agatha Christie’s A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED earlier this year. I intercepted her exit from an evening LIBERTINE performance last week to get this drawing signed.

Drawing: Jasper Britton as Charles II in The Libertine

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I read that versatile British actor Jasper Britton spent a number of years as an assistant stage manager and sound operator until in 1989 he marched into Jonathan Miller’s Old Vic office and threatened to stay there unless he as given an audition for KING LEAR. His subsequent King of France to Eric Porter’s Lear was the start of a distinguished stage career, punctuated by playing monarchs at The National and under Mark Rylance’s tenure at Shakespeare’s Globe. His latest is Charles II in THE LIBERTINE at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, captured here in majestic 4B.

The ignoble British sovereign spent many an hour in the company of the notorious 17th century rake and poet John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester and the many… shall we politely say, fallen daughters of Eve. He is one of the only characters in the play to stand up to Rochester and grants him a valuable commission with the proviso, ”Don’t fuck it up.” Paul Taylor wrote in the Independent, “The best performance of the evening comes from Jasper Britton who brilliantly captures the posturing, overripe Charles II’s unnerving swings between chumminess and assertion.”

Jasper’s mode of transport to the theatre is a motorbike. Don’t ask me the make or model, but it’s big and fast. Clad in resplendent grey leathers, befitting royalty he arrived  for Saturday’s matinee on the said cycle, popped into the stage door to sign in and sort out the removal of his garb, then sauntered back out to sign this drawing.

Drawing: Nina Toussaint-White

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Nina Toussaint-White romps about the West End boards as Jane, the favoured prostitute in THE LIBERTINE, the bawdy 17th century tale of the Earl of Rochester (Dominic Cooper) currently playing the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
She made her professional debut in 2007 in an episode of CASUALTY, then THE BILL before securing regular and recurring roles in the soap EASTENDERS as the straight-talking Nurse Syd Chambers and Angie Bailey in EMMERDALE. She has also appeared in HOLBY CITY and DOCTOR WHO among others. Nina’s last stage appearance as Tree in the Theatre Royal Stratford East’s production of THE ETIENNE SISTERS garnered Nina a nomination for Best Performance in a Musical in this year’s UK Theatre Awards.

On Saturday, while a passing, annoying Autumn shower threatened to dampen my mission, I interrupted her fast trek to the stage door. Between us we managed to  balance her cooling cup of coffee, my broken umbrella, the artwork and a sharpie, all of which were co-ordinated sufficiently to get the said rendering signed with only minor rain-drop impressions.

Drawing: Lizzie Roper in The Libertine

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Equally at home in stand-up, comedy and straight theatre on stage and screen for the past 25 years, the always popular Lizzie Roper is part of an impressive ensemble in the romping period piece, THE LIBERTINE at London’s Theatre Royal Haymarket.

When not appearing in sold out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, Lizzie has put in shifts on all the British small screen ‘biggies’, CORONATION STREET, WATERLOO RD, SHAMELESS, HOLBY CITY, THE BILL and being killed off in HOLLYOAKS, after playing Sam Lomax for over a year as well as appearing on London stages in plays such as ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST with Christian Slater at The Garrick in 2006 and THE ODD COUPLE in Edinburgh, opposite Alan Davies and Bill Bailey a year earlier.

In THE LIBERTINE Lizze plays four roles in this ‘delightful naughtiness’, including Big Dolly who is ‘enthusiastically rogered’ on a balcony by King Charles. For her solo show PICCADILLO CIRCUS, which she performed at the EdFringe, the Trafalgar Studios in London and as part of a National Tour, Lizzie researched and interviewed members of the public about their sex lives, which  may have come in handy for her participation in LIBERTINE.

It was great to meet Lizzie on Saturday at the stage door to get this drawing signed.

Drawing: Dominic Cooper in The Libertine

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Described as one of Britain’s more eclectic actors, Dominic Cooper returns to the London stage as the legendary 17th Century poet and Restoration rebel the John Wilmot who’s appetite for excess is chronicled in the revival of Stephen Jeffrey’s THE LIBERTINE at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Last seen seven years ago at the National Theatre in PHEDRE, opposite Helen Mirren, where he also played Dakin in Alan Bennett’s THE HISTORY BOYS at the National in 2004, transferring to the Broadway production and then an International tour, including Sydney, Wellington and Hong Kong. He also repeated the role in the 2006 film version.

Directed by Tony and Olivier Award winner Tony Johnson, THE LIBERTINE is a portrait of debauchery and self-destruction, chronicling the exploits of the 2nd Earl of Rochester, the notorious willy-wagging rake, boozer and frenemy of King Charles II who died from his sins at the young age of 33. He wrote some of the most distinctive poetry of the 1670’s, sweetly versified, pungently phrased prose about premature ejaculation, impotence and the love of a young woman for an older man.

“You will not like me,”  Dominic tells the audience in his opening monologue, clearly not  the case, judging by the popular reaction of patrons and press alike.

Dominic signed my sketch on arrival at the theatre for Saturday’s matinee.

Drawing: Alice Bailey-Johnson in The Libertine

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THE LIBERTINE, which follows the debauched exploits of the 2nd Earl of Rochester opened this week at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London after a limited run at the Theatre Royal Bath. Dominic Cooper plays the lead, besotted by the young actress Elizabeth Barry (Ophelia Lovibond) who ultimately rejects him. Consoling himself with
much whoring and drinking, he returns to his long-suffering, rusticated wife Elizabeth Malet played by Alice Bailey Johnson and dies.

Alice was recently seen in Mike Leigh’s MR TURNER, the biopic of eccentric British painter J M W Turner, and the popular TV series GRANTCHESTER. Her stage credits include OH WHAT A LOVELY WAR opposite Caroline Quentin in 2014 at the Theatre Royal Stratford East and NOISES OFF at the Old Vic, which I was lucky enough to see and Alice signed my cast sketch. I caught up with her again before Saturday’s matinee of THE LIBERTINE and she signed this Elizabeth drawing for me.

Drawing: Ophelia Lovibond in The Libertine

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Ophelia Lovibond sounds a really posh name, but her background, growing up on a Shepherd’s Bush council estate in a single-parent family was anything but. In an interview with the Express this month she said, “It’s a mad name, but I think it was almost inevitable that I would end up in this profession and not become a librarian in Tunbridge Wells.”

She attended Saturday morning drama at 50p a session. Ophelia made her film debut as Bet in Roman Polanski’s OLIVER TWIST in 2005 and more recently played Carina in THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.  TV viewers will know her as Sherlock’s new apprentice Kathryn ‘Kitty’ Winters in ELEMENTARY. This week she made her West End debut as the intrepid heroine and 17th Century actress Elizabeth Barry in THE LIBERTINE at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. This is a  montage sketch of her in rehearsal and in the role, which she signed at the stage door before last Saturday’s matinee.