Drawing: Tracy Ann Oberman

Tracey Ann Oberman

I meet Tracy Ann Oberman one Saturday afternoon earlier this year when the sun sometimes shone, (well it wasn’t raining) and the air temperature was very pleasant, as was Tracy-Ann. She was on her way to the matinee of McQUEEN at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, where she was performing the role of Isabella Blow, who discovered the late visionary designer Alexander MCQueen, played by Stephen Wight.

I had drawn two sketches of the award-winning actress, playwright and writer – one was depicting her and Stephen in their respective roles, which Stephen had signed a few minutes earlier and the other was this portrait montage. The weather is important here because the Theatre Royal Haymarket’s uncovered stage door opens out onto a plush little cul-de-sac that can often create its own menacing climate, not condusive  to autograph collecting. On this very pleasant day, however the weather was behaving and everything was fine with the world.

Tracy-Ann liked and signed both drawings, but I think this was her favourite. Then she slipped into the theatre to play the fascinating but ultimately tragic character who appears as a ghost. Such a kind spirit.

Stephen Wight and Tracy-Ann Oberman in McQueen

McQueen

John Caird’s stylish production McQueen about the late celebrated fashion designer Lee ‘Alexander’ McQueen, which premiered earlier this year to sell-out audiences at London’s St James Theatre, began its West End run at the Theatre Royal Haymarket last week.

Coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the designer’s death, James Phillips study is not a ‘bio-play’ wrote Fiona Mountford in her Evening Standard review.” The trippy action unfolds over one long night of the soul somewhere very near the end of McQueen’s troubled, high-achieving life.” Considered one of the most innovative designers of his generation, the ‘tortured genius’ hung himself with his favourite brown belt in 2010. The Guardian’s Michael Billington described the production as “primarily an act of worship, a secular hymn to a famous iconoclast who tragically died young at the age of 40.” The critic also wrote, “An excellent lead performance by Stephen Wight…with good support from Tracy-Ann Oberman,” as McQueen’s mentor Isabella Bow, who bought his entire 1992 graduation collection and persuaded him to use his middle name Alexander for his own fashion label. She committed suicide in 2007.

Savage Beauty – a retrospective exhibition of McQueen’s work finished this month at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

I met both Stephen and Tracy-Ann going in for last Saturday’s matinee and they were more than happy to sign this sketch.