Drawing: Jason Manford, Carley Stenson and Rebecca Lock in Curtains

Autographd drawing of Jason Manford, Carley Stenson and Rebecca Lock in Curtains at Wyndham's Theatre on London's West End

Kander and Ebb’s charming musical mystery comedy caper CURTAINS opened on Broadway at the Al Hirschfield Theatre in the spring of 2007 starring David Hyde Pierce as Lieutenant Frank Cioffi. Described as the ‘fun companion’ to the duos CHICAGO and CABARET, this classic whodunnit was nominated for eight Tony Awards with David winning for Leading Actor in a Musical.

The UK production, featuring comedian-singer Jason Manford in the lead role, premiered at Bromley’s Churchill Theatre last year, beginning a nationwide tour that included a belated but brief, unexpected five-week festive season filler at the Wyndham’s Theatre in London’s West End, due to the early closing of THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUITE.

Set in Boston in the 1950’s, the Broadway-bound musical ROBBIN’ HOOD OF THE OLD WEST is flopping, when its untalented star, Jessica Crenshaw is murdered during her opening night curtain call. Homicide cop and show tune-obsessed Frank is brought in to solve the case. Jason was joined by Carley Stenson as the show’s composer Georgina Hendricks, who replaces Jessica as the leading lady and Rebecca Lock as the brassy co-producer Carmen Bernstein.

The continuing UK tour was cancelled last month during its run at the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester due to the coronavirus pandemic. A recorded version streamed last week with profits going to the Funds For Freelancers charity.

Jason, Carley and Rebecca signed my montage sketch at the Wyndham’s Stage door in early January.


Drawing: Rory Keenan in Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Autographed drawing of Rory Keenan in Long Day's Journey Into Night at Wyndham's Theatre on London's West End

Irish actor Rory Keenan joined the cast after Richard Eyre’s 2016 production of Eugene O’Neill’s LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT after it transferred to the West End last month. He plays Jamie, one of the Tyrone’s two son’s opposite Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville in the 1945 study of the hellish damage a sick person can wreck on a family.

This is Rory’s second play under Sir Richard’s direction, having played the title role in LIOLA at the National. He won Best Supporting Actor at the Irish Times Theatre awards for his portrayal of Ronan in THE LAST DAYS OF THE CELTIC TIGER at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre in 2009. His extensive screen work includes PEAKY BLINDERS and the BIRDSONG mini series. In her Arts Desk review for JOURNEY, Ismene Brown wrote, “Rory Keenan’s terrific, (as the) cynical Jamie… roughens and undersells himself to very touching effect.”

I caught up with the likeable and friendly Rory at the Wyndham’s stage door on a bitterly cold lunchtime prior to last Saturday’s matinee and he managed to get the sharpie to work on my sketch.

Drawing: Jessica Regan in Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Autographed drawing of Jessica Regan in Long Day's Journey Into Night at Wyndham's Theatre in London's West End

Kilkenny-born actress Jessica Regan reprised her role as Catherine, the Irish housemaid in Richard Eyre’s revival of Eugene O’Neill’s Pulitzer Prize-winning family drama, LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT which premiere at the Bristol old Vic in 2016 before transferring to london’s Wyndham’s Theatre. It’s also Broadway-bound after it’s April West End conclusion.

Jessica will be familiar to soap fans, appearing in EASTENDERS and more recently as regular Niamh Donoghue in the BBC’s DOCTORS, for which she won the Best Newcomer at the British Soap Awards.

The Guardian’s Michael Billington wrote that Jessica’s Catherine was a “welcome relief in a play that, if well done, as it is here, leaves you emotionally pulverised.” Allison Vale in the British Theatre Guide said Jessica added “moments of real sparkle.”

It was great to meet her at the stage door after the matinee a couple of Saturdays ago where she signed my sketch.

Drawing: Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday in the Lady Day at the Emerson’s Bar &Grill

One of Broadway’s genuine musical theatre superstars has finally made her West End debut. Six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald made her long awaited London stage appearance last month, reprising her 2014 Broadway role as Billie Holiday in LADY DAY AT THE EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL at Wyndham’s Theatre.

“One legend playing another,” wrote Michael Billington in his Guardian review. Dominic Cavendish in The Telegraph said her performance was “pouring divine nectar into your ears; here, beautifully modulated, is all the playfulness, mischief, yearning, sadness and stoicism to be found in those crackling records of long ago.”

Audra is the first person to win six Tonys for acting and the first person to win the award in all four acting categories. She has also collected Grammy and Emmy Awards. Her Tony winners are CAROUSAL (1994), MASTER CLASS (1996), RAGTIME (1998), A RAISIN IN THE SUN (2004), PORGY AND BESS (2012) and LADY DAY (2014).

It was an absolute pleasure to meet her at the stage door a couple of weeks ago as she arrived for the Saturday matinee. She loved the drawing and graciously signed it for me.

Drawing: Ben Turner and Andrei Costin in The Kite Runner


Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini’s debut 2003 novel THE KITE RUNNER became an International best-seller and was adapted into a 2007 film. Matthew Spangler’s stage version is currently running in the West End at Wyndham’s Theatre until March.

It’s a haunting tale of the unlikely friendship between Amir, a wealthy boy from Kabul and his closest friend and kite-running partner Hassan, the son of his father’s servant. Andrei Costin is Hassan and former CASUALTY star Ben Turner plays Amir as an adult who speaks directly to the audience, retrospectively looking back at the events that led to him becoming a refugee in California and the terrible incident that would shatter their lives forever. Both signed this drawing for me after last Saturday’s matinee.

Drawing: Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Owen Teale and Damien Molony in No Man’s Land


Following their hit run on Broadway, Sirs Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart brought the Pinter masterpiece NO MAN’S LAND to the West End for a sell-out season at Wyndham’s Theatre, which concluded on Saturday last. They were joined by Owen Teale and Damien Molony in this much-anticipated revival of Harold Pinter’s 1975 cryptic and hilariously tragicomedy directed by Sean Mathias.

A pub postman, Spooner (Sir Ian) is invited back to the luxurious Hampstead pad of Hirst, (Sir Patrick) a famous writer, where they proceed to get trollied on epic amounts of whiskey and vodka, and spend the evening in drunken conversation as the guest ingratiates himself on his near comatose host only interrupted by the intimidating manservants Briggs (Owen) and Foster (Damien). The play is evoked by the classic English farce, laden with ‘peachy’ one-liners such as Briggs, “the best time to drink champagne is before lunch, you cunt.”

In a nutshell, it looks at the absurdity and chaos of late life and the disintegration of memory. TimeOut said of the Sirs performance,”Two actors who still live up to their legend, nailing one of the great works of a playwrights who still lives up to his.”

I managed to get Sir Ian, Owen and Damien to graph this montage sketch in person at the stage door, but Sir Patrick was a little more elusive. I tried on a few occasions, but he had  guests or had to rush off, so missed him. However, caught in no man’s land in the final week, I passed it onto  the helpful Joshua at Wyndham’s, who did get the drawing to Sir Patrick and it was returned signed, completing the set.

Drawing: Alexander Hanson and Frances O’Connor in The Truth

The Truth

Eighteen months ago very few theatre-goers in London had heard of Florian Zeller. Now the Parisian playwright is “the go-to man if you are looking for 90 minutes of elegant perceptive drama that plays games with the slippery nature of theatrical reality,” according to WhatsOnStage critic Sarah Crompton.

His latest offering, THE TRUTH completes a dazzling hat-trick that includes THE FATHER and its companion piece THE MOTHER, both of which have graced the London stage to critical acclaim recently. THE TRUTH, directed by Lindsay Posner, opened at the Menier Chocolate Factory earlier this year and has transferred to the West End’s Wyndham’s Theatre. In her five-star review for the Guardian, Kate Kellaway described it as “a devious must-see.”

Like his previous English successes, LA VERITE, which was written in 2011, has been translated by Christopher Hampton. It’s a confounding and unsettling tale of infidelity and the lying game as Michel (Alexander Hanson) attempts to keep his wife (Tanya Franks), his mistress (Frances O’Connor) and his best friend (Robert Portal) in the dark about his intentions. Sarah Crompton wrote, “It’s a plot as slim as a Parisian woman, and just as sophisticated, with a faint whiff of 1950’s wreathing its etiolated gestures.”

Both Frances and Alexander signed my drawing at the stage door after last Saturday’s matinee.

Drawing: Denise Gough in People, Places and Things

Denise Gough

The favourite to win this week’s Olivier Award for Best Actress is Denise Gough for her exceptional performance as a recovering addict in Duncan Macmillian’s PEOPLE, PLACES AND THINGS. She has already won the Critics’ Circle Award. A year ago, the Irish actress was out of work and contemplating quitting acting. She applied for a cleaning job and auditioned for the play at the National Theatre, winning the lead role. It opened on the National’s Dorfman stage last September to rave reviews and a sell-out season, transferring to the West End’s Wyndham’s Theatre this month for a twelve week run.

“The extraordinary Denise Gough electrifies as a raging, terrified addict” wrote Susannah Clapp in her Guardian review.

Denise signed my sketch at the Wyndham’s stage door prior to Saturday’s matinee. Oh and apparently she didn’t get the cleaning job, which was just as well really.

Drawing: Hangmen

Hangmen 2

After a 12-year hiatus writing for the stage, London-born Irish playwright Martin
McDonagh returns to theatre, which he described in The Observer as the ‘worst of all artforms’. If that’s the case, he’s doing his best to mock that  statement with his latest dark comical  offering, HANGMEN, a savage satire on the justice and punishment system – ‘the grimmer side of the swinging sixties’.

Described by one reviewer as a cross between Harold Pinter’s ‘linguistic gamesmanship’ and Joe Orton’s ‘gallows humour’, it’s the Olivier, Oscar and BAFTA winner’s first play set in England, in a small pub in Oldham in 1965 to be precise. Receiving rave reviews and a cluster of five-stars after it’s sell-out run at the Royal Court earlier last year, the production transferred to the West End’s Wyndham’s Theatre and is scheduled to finish in March this year.

What’s Harry Wade, the second-best hangman in England to do on the day they’ve abolished hanging? A reporter and the regular tavern sycophants want to know his reaction, as a peculiar stranger lurks amongst them with a very different motive. Led by David Morrissey as Wade, the outstanding cast includes Andy Nyman, Johnny Flynn, Sally Rogers, Bronwyn James, Ryan Pope, Simon Rouse, Craig Parkinson, Tony Hirst, John Hodgkinson,James Dryden and Josef Davis.
With such a large  ensemble, it took more than one sketch to fit them all in and more than one attempt to get it graphed. At this point I thought of resisting the term ‘hanging around stage doors’. But I didn’t. If it’s good enough for distinguished critics like Dominic Cavendish to write “doesn’t loosen it’s grip from start to finish,” and Paul Taylor to say “drop-dead hilarious… perfectly executed,” then I’m in good company. And speaking of good company, the HANGMEN cast were excellent on and off the stage.


Drawing: Kenneth Cranham and Claire Skinner in The Father

Kenneth Cranham Claire Skinner The Father

‘The most acclaimed new play of the decade’, The Father has just transferred to London’s Wyndham’s Theatre for a limited 8-week run after it’s UK tour. Receiving an unprecedented nine 5-star reviews from all of the British major newspaper critics and winner of France’s highest theatrical honour, the 2014 Moliere Award for Best Play, this Theatre Royal Bath and Tricycle Theatre production is based on Christopher Hampton’s ‘crisp and witty’ adaption of French playwright Florian Zeller’s savagely honest study of dementia. Tony and Olivier Award nominees Kenneth Cranham as the titular character Andre and Claire Skinner as his daughter Anne lead the superb cast. The Telegraph’s Dominic Cavendish wrote,”One of the most absorbing and distressing portraits of dementia I’ve ever seen.” The writer wants the audience to ‘get lost in a mental labyrinth’, not to simply be a witness of the effects of Alzheimer’s, but to actually feel the confusion and the devastating realisation and loss of what is slipping away. In many reviews it was reported that the final scene has most of the audience sobbing and some having to be helped from the auditorium.

The stage doors of both the Wyndham’s and Noel Coward Theatre’s open out onto a small shared alleyway. Photograph 51 with Nicole Kidman is currently running at the later, attracting a large crowd for it’s A-list star, which means The Father cast can be a little difficult to find emerging at the same time, especially on a Saturday night. Howeve, I managed to locate both Kenneth and Claire to sign my sketch.