Stephanie Lawrence

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Lawrence as Pearl in the original cast of Starlight Express, 1984

Stephanie Lawrence (16 December 1949 – 4 November 2000) was a British musical theatre actress.

Background[edit]

Stephanie Lawrence was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, England in 1949. She was the daughter of a Welsh singer which is where she credited her voice, and a classically trained dancer. She moved to Hayling Island at the age of four. From an early age she was close friends with another famous Islander, Peter Chilvers, who in 1958 invented the windsurfer.

Career[edit]

Theatre[edit]

Having trained at the Arts Educational School, Tring, Hertfordshire (now Tring Park School for the Performing Arts), she made her debut in The Nutcracker at the Royal Festival Hall in London in 1962.[1] She became a member of the corps de ballet at the Royal Festival Ballet at the age of 12 with the intention of becoming a ballerina, however, her plans were disrupted when she was forced to miss a year after contracting pneumonia aged 15.[2]

Her West End debut came at the age of 16, playing the part of a rollerskating tap dancer in Forget Me Not Lane.[1] Her first musical appearance in the West End was in Bubbling Brown Sugar.

Evita[edit]

In 1980, Lawrence was cast as the alternate to Marti Webb as Eva Peron in the musical Evita, written by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Webb had previously played the role while Paige was on holiday and was persuaded by director Hal Prince to remain with the production to perform twice weekly, in anticipation of succeeding from Paige at the end of her contract. This established a precedent which would continue for the remainder of the show's London run. Lawrence subsequently graduated from alternate to main performer in 1981.[1]

Musical theatre in the 1980s[edit]

During the 1980s, Lawrence carved out a career as one of the leading female musical theatre performers in London.

She left Evita to create the title role of Marilyn Monroe in Marilyn! the Musical, which won her outstanding reviews and the Best Actress of the Year Award from the Variety Club of Great Britain as well as a nomination from the Society of West End Theatre Awards (now the Laurence Olivier Awards).[1]

She was then cast as Pearl, the principal female role, in the original London production of Starlight Express, in which she performed on roller-skates.[1]

Lawrence appeared in a musical version of The Blue Angel at the Bristol Old Vic, in which she played the character of Lola-Lola, made famous by Marlene Dietrich in the movie of the same name.[3]

In 1987 she created the part of Louise in the musical Time written by Dave Clark.

Directly after her run in Time Stephanie took over the role of Kate/Lili Vanessi in the RSC production of Kiss Me Kate at the Savoy Theatre, succeeding Nichola McAucliffe. Over Christmas of 1988 into early 1989 she played the eponymous Cinderella in the pantomime, opposite Lionel Blair as Buttons. In 1990 she toured with the musical Blues in the Night playing The Woman of the World.

"Straight" theatre[edit]

In 1986, Lawrence took on her first dramatic part as Doris in The Owl and the Pussycat touring with Peter Davison. Soon after this she appeared at Oslo International Cabaret in her one-woman show.

FIFA World Cup 1986[edit]

In 1986 she sang the song 'Special Kind of Hero' which was used in the official FIFA film of the tournament. The song was written by British musician Rick Wakeman

Blood Brothers[edit]

In 1990, Lawrence took the role of Mrs. Johnstone in the revival of Willy Russell's Blood Brothers. She played the role for three years, first at the Albery Theatre then subsequently the Phoenix Theatre in London, before moving to create the role in the original Broadway production at the Music Box Theatre in New York (1993).[1][4] She was nominated for a Tony Award and won the Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut. She would play the part of Mrs Johnstone on and off for the next few years, during which she performed on the 1995 London Cast Recording. She had to pull out of the production after suffering from exhaustion.[5]

Later career[edit]

Her last role in the West End was as Grizabella in Cats in 1998.[5] She was forced to leave the show after falling down a staircase, receiving critical injuries.[3]

Film[edit]

In 1987, Lawrence was cast as Frannie in the film Buster, opposite Phil Collins, Julie Walters and Larry Lamb.[2] The film depicted the story of Great Train Robbery of 1963. Her other film credits include The Likely Lads (1976) and the role of Carlotta in The Phantom of the Opera (1989).[2]

Television[edit]

She was a member of the dance troupe Pan's People which appeared on Top of the Pops during the late 1970s.[2]

Lawrence portrayed Mary Magdalene in the ITV play Doubting Thomas in 1983.[1]

In 1982, Lawrence appeared in the BBC Two series The Vocal Touch, in an episode which was a showcase for her talents as a singer and actress.[6] She was featured in an episode of Night Music on BBC One in 1983 and Six Fifty-Five on BBC Two during the same year.[7][8] She also appeared on Des O'Connor Tonight, Pete Sayers' Electric Music Show, The Two Ronnies, Wogan, It's Max Boyce, Pebble Mill at One and The Les Dawson Show.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15]

Recording[edit]

In 1979, she recorded a duet with Johnny Mathis called "You Saved My Life", which featured on his Columbia Records album Mathis Magic.

Personal life[edit]

Lawrence married Laurie Sautereau in September 2000.[1]

Death[edit]

Lawrence died on 4 November 2000, as the result of alcoholic liver disease.[5][4] She was found by her husband Laurie Sautereau at their London home.

Discography[edit]

Solo albums[edit]

  • Footlights: A Tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber (1993)
  • Marilyn: The Legend (1996)

Solo singles[edit]

Cast recordings[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]

  • The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber (1988)
  • The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection (1991)
    • "Macavity, the Mystery Cat"
    • "All I Ask of You"
    • "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again"
  • The Andrew Lloyd Webber Songbook (1993)
    • "Chanson D'Enfance"
    • "Anything But Lonely"
    • "Think of Me"
  • Music and Songs from The Phantom of the Opera and Aspects of Love
  • Music and Songs from Starlight Express and Cats

Theatre[edit]

Show Year Role Notes
The Nutcracker 1962
Forget Me Not Lane
Bubbling Brown Sugar
Evita 1980 Eva Peron Initially alternate to Marti Webb, then full-time from 1981
Marilyn! the Musical 1983 Marilyn Monroe Created role in the original London production
Starlight Express 1984 Pearl Created role in the original London production
The Owl and the Pussycat 1986 Doris
Time 1987 Louise
The Blue Angel Lola-Lola
Kiss Me Kate 1988 Kate/Lili Vanessi
Blues in the Night 1990 The Woman of the World
Blood Brothers 1990 Mrs Johnstone Appeared on Broadway in the role in 1993
Cats 1998 Grizabella

Filmography[edit]

Film Year Role
O Lucky Man! 1973
The Likely Lads 1976 Demonstrator
Larry Grayson 1977 Dancer
The Benny Hill Show 1978 Dancer / various roles
Doubting Thomas 1983
Buster 1988 Franny Reynolds
The Phantom of the Opera 1989 La Carlotta

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Billington, Michael (2000-11-06). "Obituary: Stephanie Lawrence". the Guardian. Retrieved 2016-05-13. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Stephanie Lawrence | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-05-13. 
  3. ^ a b "West End Star Stephanie Lawrence Found Dead in London | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved 2016-05-13. 
  4. ^ a b "Stephanie Lawrence, actress in stage musicals, dead at 50". The Independent. 2000-11-05. Retrieved 2016-05-13. 
  5. ^ a b c "Star died of liver disease". BBC. 2000-11-07. Retrieved 2016-05-13. 
  6. ^ "The Vocal Touch - BBC Two England - 10 December 1982 - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-13. 
  7. ^ "Night Music - BBC One London - 2 July 1983 - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-13. 
  8. ^ "Six Fifty-five - BBC Two England - 3 August 1983 - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-13. 
  9. ^ "Des O'Connor Tonight - BBC Two England - 16 November 1981 - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-13. 
  10. ^ "Pete Sayers Electric Music Show - BBC Two England - 16 August 1982 - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-13. 
  11. ^ "The Two Ronnies - BBC One London - 17 December 1983 - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-13. 
  12. ^ "Wogan - BBC One London - 17 March 1984 - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-13. 
  13. ^ "It's Max Boyce - BBC One London - 30 December 1984 - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-13. 
  14. ^ "Pebble Mill at One - BBC One London - 31 October 1985 - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-13. 
  15. ^ "The Les Dawson Show - BBC One London - 11 February 1984 - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-13. 

External links[edit]