“Audiences may come to this production drawn by the star power of Suranne Jones, but will leave talking about Jason Watkins,” wrote David Butcher in his Radio Times review of FROZEN, which has been running at London’s Theatre Royal Haymarket since February.
“His performance as Ralph, a serial killer and paedophile, who abducts children is strikingly sinister, a creepy tour de force”.
Suranne plays Nancy, a mother of a murdered daughter, killed by Jason’s character. Both actors were kept apart for most of the rehearsals to make the moment when they ‘collide’ on stage as ‘powerful’ as possible said director Jonathan Munby.
When you meet the BAFTA-winning Jason he is the complete opposite, one of the nicest people stalking the London boards, obviously not a method actor. He was more than happy to sign my drawing at the stage door a few weeks ago.
Continuing my series of writer sketches is prolific English playwright Simon Stephens. After giving up school teaching, Simon’s theatre career started at the Royal Court Theatre in London where he taught the Young Writers’ Programme for many years. He is now its Associate Playwright as well as Artistic Associate at the Lyric Hammersmith and the inaugural Associate Playwright at the Steep Theatre Company in Chicago… just busy enough.
Winner of numerous accolades, his most notable is the Best New Play Olivier Award in 2006 for ON THE SHORE OF THE WIDE WORLD. Simon’s adaption of Mark Haddon’s novel THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME won the 2013 Best New Play Olivier, one of a record seven the production collected.
The highly acclaimed story surrounding the mystery of the death of a neighbour’s dog investigated by Christopher Boone who has an autistic spectrum condition. The play opened at the National Theatre in August 2012 before transferring to the Apollo in London’s West End the following year. The production halted when the theatre’s ceiling collapsed on 19 December and reopened next door at the Gielgud Theatre in July 2014, completing the run in June last year.
The Broadway production debuted in October 2014 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, winning the Best New Play Tony Award. I sent my sketch of Simon to his London agent and it quickly came back signed and dedicated.
Cuba Gooding Jr’s portrayal of the arrogant, yet charismatic football player Rod Tidwell in Cameron Crowe’s blockbuster sports comedy JERRY MAGUIRE won him the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1996. This breakthrough role originated the famous phrase,”Show me the money!” that still resonates today. This month he made his West End stage debut as the hotshot lawyer Billy Flynn in the 21st Anniversary revival of the musical CHICAGO at the Phoenix Theatre.
After being told by security that Cuba was resting between the matinee and evening performances last Saturday, he suddenly appeared at the stage door in his dressing gown to meet the surprised fans. When I asked him to to sign my sketch ‘To Mark’ he said “Oh Mark that’s my middle name, did you know that? I didn’t but I do know so I was confident he could spell it on the dedication.
Veteran British actor, Jack Shepherd has returned to the West End as ex-US President Art Hockstader in Gore Vidal’s searing political drama THE BEST MAN at the Playhouse Theatre. The 77 year-old actor, theatre director, playwright, accomplished saxophonist and jazz pianist is probably best known for his TV role as Cornwell’s Detective Superintendent Charles Wycliffe in WYCLIFFE, from 1993-1998.
Jack’s stage pedigree includes originating the role of Richard Roma in the 1983 London production of GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, which won him Best Actor at the Society of West End Theatre Awards, later known as the Oliviers.
Jack signed my sketch at the Playhouse Theatre stage door as he arrived for a Saturday matinee a few weeks ago.
Honeysuckle Weeks has a memorable stage name, so called because the fragrant climbing plant was in bloom at the time she was born 38 years ago. After graduating from Oxford University with an English degree in 2001, she embarked on an acting career that has spanned stage and screen.
She is best known on the small screen for her role as Samantha Stewart in ITV’s wartime drama FOYLE’S WAR. In 2010 she appeared in the West End run of Agatha Christie’s A DAUGHTER’S A DAUGHTER at the Trafalgar Studios and three years later played Cordelia in KING LEAR at the Old Vic.
She is currently starring in the West End debut of Gore Vidal’s THE BEST MAN at the Playhouse Theatre. I did this montage of Honeysuckle in all three stage roles and she signed it for me as she arrived at the Playhouse for last Saturday’s matinee.
One of my favourite plays and films is THE DRESSER, written by Sir Ronald Harwood. After arriving in London from South Africa in 1951, Sir Ronald studied at RADA and then joined the Shakespearian company of Sir Donald Wolfit and became his personal dresser.
He wrote the play THE DRESSER in 1980, based on his experiences. It an account of an ageing actor’s personal assistant, struggling to keep his charge’s life together. The 1983 film version earned him Academy Award and BAFTA screenplay nominations. Sir Ronald did win the Adapted Screenplay Oscar in 2003 for Roman Polanski’s THE PIANIST.
He also won the BAFTA four years later for his adaption of Jean-Dominique Bauby’s memoirs THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY, as well as another Oscar nom. I did this quick drawing of Sir Ronald a couple of weeks ago and sent it to him at his London home and it came back signed.
‘Two Queens. One in power. One in prison. It’s all in the execution’ …and two exceptional actresses, Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams.
After a sell-out run at the Almeida Theatre, Robert Icke’s new adaption of MARY STUART transferred for a limited run at the Duke of York’s in London’s West End. The political tragedy verse play by Friedrich Schiller, which premiered in 1800 depicts the last days of Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I. Both Juliet and Lia played alternated the roles of the two Queens depending on who called heads or tails.
“Lia Williams and Juliet Stevenson switch roles at the toss of a coin to play the warring queens in Robert Icke’s explosive production,” wrote Susannah Clapp in her five-star Guardian review. Both signed my drawing at the stage door before the run ended on Saturday.
On the stage door wall of the Noel Coward Theatre in the heart of the West End is a wonderful poster for GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY featuring the two leads, Ciaran Hinds and Shirley Henderson. I got out my pad and sketched it… and they signed it for me.
I was really pleased to see both were nominated for Olivier Awards for their ‘mesmerising’ performances, which will be announced early next month. After a sold-out run at the Old Vic, Connor McPherson’s production, featuring the music of Bob Dylan is set in the Depression era, in a guesthouse in Bob’s hometown, Duluth, Minnesota, run by the gruff owner Nick Laine (Ciaran) and his wife Elizabeth (Shirley) who suffers from dementia. They anchor a large ensemble cast.
Double-Olivier Award Winner, Samantha Spiro has joined the Wilde side in the West End, as Dominic Dromgoole’s year-long Oscar Wilde season continues at the Vaudeville Theatre with the Kathy Burke helmed LADY WINDERMERE’S FAN. Samantha is Mrs Erlynne, the ‘other woman’ suspected of having an affair with Lady Windermere’s husband, with a secret twist revealed later in the play. Lyn Gardner wrote in her Guardian review, “Dripping charm and diamonds, Spiro’s superb as a scarlet woman doing unarmed combat with Victorian moralism.”
Samantha happily signed my drawing at the stage door a few weeks ago between Saturday performances.
English actor, writer and comedian Kevin Bishop plays the ‘dashingly funny’ (The Times) Lord Darlington in Kathy Burke’s ‘vividly fresh’ revival of Oscar Wilde’s LADY WINDERMERE’S FAN at London’s Vaudeville Theatre.
Kevin is well known to small screen fans for Channel 4’s comedy sketch series THE KEVIN BISHOP SHOW, which he co-wrote with Lee Hupfield and the BBC’s remake of the classic comedy PORRIDGE. His recent London stage appearances include the one-man show FULLY COMMITTED at the Menier Chocolate Factory in which he played 40 characters and ONCE IN A LIFETIME opposite Harry Enfield at the Young Vic.
Playing Lord Darlington gives Kevin a chance to work with two of his comedy heroes, Kathy Burke and Jennifer Saunders and deliver some of Wilde’s memorable lines, such as “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” I met Kevin as he was about to take his dog for a walk between shows on Saturday. I held the leash and he took my sharpie and signed my drawing.