English actress Natalie Dormer has returned to the West End this month as the brash, vulgar, unschooled actress Vanda Jordan in the Patrick Marber-directed two-hander VENUS IN FUR at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Natalie’s last appearance on the London boards was Patrick Marber’s AFTER MISS JULIE at the Young Vic in 2012. Reviews said she was “nothing short of sensational”. She also appeared two years earlier on the same stage as Mitzi in SWEET NOTHINGS. Natalie gained international prominence on the big screen as Cressida in THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY, Parts 1 and 2 and on the small screen as Margaret Tyrell in THE GAME OF THRONES.I meet her after Saturday’s evening performance at the stage door where she signed this drawing for me.
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.
Celia Imrie won the Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for her role as Miss Babs in the 2005 production of ACORN ANTIQUES: THE MUSICAL at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Celia became known for her television collaborations with Victoria Wood and in 1985 she first played the infamous Miss Babs, the love lorn owner of Acorn Antiques, known for her frequent parodic flirtations with customers and her abuse of her housekeeper Mrs Overall (Julie Walters).
The sketches were a parody on the low budget British soap operas, in particular CROSSROADS, with its low production values, overacting, wobbly sets, appalling dialogue and improbable plots. The West End musical version, directed by Trevor Nunn, which also parodied successful musicals such as LES MISERABLES and CHICAGO premiered in February 2005 and ran for a three-month sell-out season.
Celia recently returned to the London stage to play Goneril in the just completed KING LEAR opposite Glenda Jackson at the Old Vic, where I caught up with her to sign this sketch of her as Miss Babs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of Britain’s best-loved pop performers, Pixie Lott has made her stage debut as Holly Golightly, the dizzy, enigmatic New York good-time girl in the theatrical adaption of Truman Capote’s classic novella BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S. After opening at The Curve Leicester Theatre in March and a brief tour, the production has settled into the Theatre Royal Haymarket in the West End. Pixie will play Holly, the role immortalised by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film version, for a limited 12 week run, ending in September.
The production is the latest stage version adapted by American playwright Richard Greenberg from Capote’s original rather than the film script. It was first performed on Broadway in 2013 with GAME OF THRONES star Emilia Clarke as Holly.
Pixie knows a thing or three about singing. Her Platinum-record selling pop career started with a bang. Her debut single ‘Mama Do’ went to Number 1 in June 2009 and things have continued on an upward trajectory since. She insists she’s not ditching singing, just developing a wider audience appeal with her acting.
In fact she gets to perform three songs in the play, including the classic Academy Award winning number ‘Moon River”. Pixie has been making a strong sartorial display arriving and leaving the theatre each day, keeping the tabloids busy, so the paps were positioned along with a handful of us graphers in equal numbers, outside the stage door on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
The amiable Pixie arrived, (now for a rare moment of fashion commentary) in a stylish pastel pink tea dress, snakeskin ankle boots with a small silver handbag and matching winged sunglasses, adding a blue sharpie to the accessories and everyone got what they wanted.