Drawing: Sir Trevor Nunn

Trevor Nunn

Sir Trevor Nunn is the Knight I would want to spend a day with. His list of productions include Les Miserables, Cats, Chess, Sunset Boulevard, Starlight Express, Piaf, Aspects of Love, A Little Night Music, not to mention just about every play by the Bard. In fact, it would be quicker to list what he hasn’t done. Not to mention his list of achievements and awards, far too numerous for this small space.

Some critics consider him the finest and most versatile theatre director in the world. He was one of the theatrical icons I always wanted to meet. Since living in London over the past five and a bit years, our paths have crossed on many occasions – all of which are memorable (to me).

Sir Trevor is the kind of person you can stop in the street (without security reminding you of your mortality) and ‘chew the fat’. He has always been very friendly and generous with his time and comments. He walks a lot around London. I remember waiting at the lights in Shaftesbury Avenue and he was beside me, so we walked and chatted.

“Hi, Sir Trevor, how’s rehearsal for Birdsong going?” I would say.

“I’m going there now,” as we both headed towards the Comedy Theatre.

He’s always wearing his denims – something he has been doing since 1961. Elizabeth Grice in an interview with Sir Trevor earlier this year in The Telegraph mentioned this fact in connection with his youthfulness. She said of the 74 year old: “if I mistype him as 47 it seems to make more sense… his thick, dark hair, also c. 1961, is still, improbably thick and dark. He might be the scruffy boy who has strayed in through the stage door to get autographs.” Now, that sounds familiar!

I drew this quick ink sketch which he signed for me at the front door of the Theatre Royal Haymarket on the opening night of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead on a balmy June evening in 2011.

 

Drawing: Hannah Wadingham and Kelly Price in A Little Night Music

A Little Night Music

One of my favourite songs is ‘Send in the Clowns’ from Stephen Sondheim’s 1973 musical A Little Night Music. I’m not sure why I like it – the haunting melody, the lyrics or maybe as a political cartoonist it’s simply metaphorical. Sondheim that it was about fools and foolishness.

It’s the show’s big number – a ballad from Act II in which the character Desiree reflects on the ironies and disappointments of her life after her marriage proposal is declined. The song became a major pop hit when first Judy Collins recorded it in England, then Frank Sinatra heard it and also recorded it. It won the Grammy in 1976 for Song of the Year. Since then it seems that every person who sings has recorded it, including Barbra Streisand, Shirley Bassey, Olivia Newton-John, Elaine Paige…. even Krusty the Clown of The Simpsons.

Sir Trevor Nunn’s 2009 production – the third London revival – started life at the Menier Chocolate Factory before transferring to the Garrick Theatre. The wonderful Hannah Waddingham played Desiree, the touring thesp, self-absorbed, once-successful actress who rekindles her love affair with a benign middle aged lawyer, now married to an 18 year old.

Kelly Price played Charlotte, the tolerant wife of Desiree’s lover Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm. Both ewere nominated for Olivier Awards. Getting this sketch signed was a bit of a mission. I eventually caught up with Kelly after a performance of The Misanthrope at the Comedy Theatre in March 2010 and Hannah signed in August at the Regent’s Park Open Theatre where she was appearing in Into The Woods.