January 20 marks the 10-year anniversary of the death of legendary Broadway caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, but his influence on art is still felt along the Great White Way. NY1's Frank DiLella sits down with two Broadway artists whose work is inspired by the master himself.
Consider them true theater artists, following a mission that includes preserving the New York entertainment community and its creatures, one sketch at time.
Inspired by the work of Broadway's most famous caricaturist, the late Al Hirschfeld, Ken Fallin has been capturing the New York Theater in black and white for almost three decades. His process, which he calls "old fashioned," includes sketching in pencil and finishing up in quill pen.
Fallin credits the creator of the off-Broadway show "Forbidden Broadway" for giving him a start in the performing arts.
"In 1983, Gerard Alessandrini contacted me," Fallin says. "He was looking for something different for the posters, and he knew that I could draw like Hirschfeld."
Fallin's theater art, which regularly appears on Playbill.com, has featured Broadway's biggest names, like Patti LuPone and Liza Minnelli, to newcomers, like Jeremy Jordan and Tracie Bennett. While he says performers generally applaud his art, he adds that there have been exceptions, like LuPone.
"Two years ago, I did a fall preview drawing for Playbill and I drew Patti, and it was not the most flattering drawing, I have to admit," he said. "But I got a very, well, heated note from her press agent, saying 'I would appreciate if you would not draw my client anymore,'" Fallin says.
Similar to Fallin, Justin "Squigs" Robertson transformed his passion for the stage on to the page.
"I'm also an actor, and so these were closing night gifts for fellow cast members starting way back in the early '90s," Robertson says.
Squigs is now the in-house artist for Broadway.com, and most recently created the cover for the new Actors' Equity book "Performance of the Century", where he sketched the likes of Ethel Merman, Zero Mostel, Carol Channing and more.
Like Fallin, Squigs says he feels he's carrying Hirschfeld's torch. Hirschfeld's widow, Louise, seems to agree.
"It’s wonderful that the style is continued and that people still appreciate the art of caricature," she says.
To see the theater art of Squigs, log on to broadway.com. For Ken Fallin, go to playbill.com.