- You've read the books, now hum the author...
With Carlton Edwards, Laurence has written songs for the RSC's West End and international hit The Shakespeare Revue, late night cabarets and their own comic operetta Strand Collaboratorial. His plays range from the comic Shh... and Departures to the poignant World War One reflection Christmas Poppies. A passion for Shakespeare inspired WR4 RT U ROMEO, the distillation of Romeo & Juliet for young audiences and the Frolics in Fairyland: A Midsummer Nights Dream presented as Victorian Music Hall. The pantomime tradition continued with such productions as Cinderella at St Georges Theatre, London, and in various plays and verses for schools and colleges.
... NEW UK TOUR 2016 ...
see upcoming dates below
In 1995, Laurence and Carlton were approached by Christopher Luscombe and Malcolm McKee to contribute to their acclaimed evening of songs and sketches inspired by the Bard, with words and music by Noel Coward, Tom Lehrer, Cole Porter and Victoria Wood. The show has starred the compilers themselves with Janie Dee, Susie Blake, Jan Hartley, Clive Francis, Paul Greenwood, Nicola Keen, Clive Haywood, Gemma Craven, Martin Connor and other distinguished performers. Laurence was invited to write for the show "a collection of songs and sketches written by some of the wittiest people of the 20th century" and provided the lyrics to four songs including "Cleopatra's wonderful lament: The Heroine The Opera House Forgot", No Parts for Women (revived in Malcolm McKee's The Best Will in the World) and contributed to The Bard of Avon and Put Out The Light.
In the past few years, the show has continued to prove a palapable hit. Staged on board Swan Hellenic cruises to Africa, the Middle East and India, braving summer rain in the open air in Liverpool and as a highlight of the first Australian National Shakespeare Festival (catch it on YouTube HERE).
The past few seasons have seen the show back at Stratford upon Avon and playing venues as diverse as the City Varieties in Leeds, the Wellington Repertory Theatre in New Zealand and several town squares in the Dordogne! Recent productions from Surrey to the Mediterranean, South Africa and New Zealand.
A brand new production - without Laurence's original 1990s opening patter, but featuring his collaborative poignant final song and highlighting the showstopping operatic routine - began a UK tour in summer 2016 to celebrate the Bard's 400th anniversary.
"There are so many great numbers, but the best of them include The Heroine The Opera House Forgot." LiveTheatre.co.uk
"One of the best things to come out of the RSC" The Independent
"Absolute Bliss" Barry Took, The Times
"A collection of songs and sketches written by
some of the wittiest people of the 20th century. The wonderful voice of Anna Stolli belting out The Heroine the Opera House Forgot was a delight. I’m sure Verdi wouldn’t have minded. This is a deft show... a lot of fun and despite its irreverence had a touch of a tingle factor by the end."The Hunts Post on the 2016 revival at Cambridge Arts Theatre .
Next UK Tour Dates (Sept-Dec 2016)
BATH Theatre Royal
Mon 19th - Sat 24th September 2016
GUILDFORD Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
Wed 5th - Sat 8th October 2016
Mon 7th - Sat 12th November 2016
BRIGHTON Theatre Royal
Mon 21st - Sat 26th November 2016
GLASGOW Theatre Royal
Tue 29th - Sat 3rd December 2016
Shakespeare in Season (Kew Gardens 2003 and tours): contributed to Malcolm McKee's Shakespearean celebration
The Mercury Revue (with Angela Richards, Janie Dee, Clive Carter and Steven Pacey, directed by Julia McKenzie at the Jermyn Street Theatre, London, 1994). This seasonal show commssioned new works from a variety of unknown composers and lyricists. Stephen Sondheim was guest of honour for a special Christmas gala performance).
"Highly enjoyable, deftly presented two hour show” Michael Billington, The Guardian
"The real stars were the writers.” The Stage
"Small but perfectly formed delight, charming little showcase of new musical talent: Some 20 sardonic, topical songs by a variety of writers and composers" Sarah Hemming, The Independent
Late & Lyrical (Starring Issy Van Randwyck, of Fascinating Aida; Jermyn Street Theatre, London, 1996-1997) featured first public performance of extracts from Strand Collaboratorial.
WR4 RT U ROMEO
A distillation of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet for a young audience. (Fly Monkey's production at The Gatehouse Theatre, London, 2002; The Fox Theatre, London, 2001) .
"The old tale of forbidden love, family feuds and unhappy fate presented in a new light altogether in this abridged and rearranged version, by removing the emphasis from the young lovers and focusing it instead on the supporting characters. Something deeper is thereby revealed, something that Is not obvious in productions where the attention is fixed exclusively on Romeo and Juliet and their fate. The eventual tragedy is made more poignant by the fact that Romeo and Juliet figured so significantly in the lives of each, who we forget thereby lose someone they loved."
"Laurence Phillips’ abridgement ruthlessly axes all that is unnecessary to leave tight action and witty dialogue while losing none of the emotion, tenderness or compassion. Refreshing to find a writer who is not afraid to pare Shakespeare down to the core to bring out the raw storyline.” UKtheatre.net
New 80-minute acting edition available to buy online. Click HERE
SHH... and DEPARTURES (presented as a souble bill Comings & Goings, Tower Theatre, London, 1997; Queen Mother Theatre, Hitchin 2001):
In Shh... we meet six couples in the auditorium of a concert hall. A comedy that alternatives from the poignant to the farcical, of whispered conversations from relationships on the edge.
Departures follows six very different women as they pass through Heathrow Airport and jet off towards new dreams. Play available to order online HERE Price £4.99
Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Lawyer (Queen Mother Theatre, Hitchin):
Popular with schools, this courtroom satire showcases Marvin Spoilsport QC as he manipulates "justice" for fairy tale villains.
Life Support :
Confession time for a mother and daughter. Visiting hour at hospital reveals some deep dark secrets. Play available to order online HERE Price £3.99
In their own words, the soldiers of World War One tell of Christmases 1914-1918. Letters home from officers and men from Britain, France, the USA and Germany. As a one man show, two hander and full company play, an enthralling, thought-provoking and touching glimpse of humanity.
If William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan were to have composed a Savoy Opera about the absurdity of their own relationship and the machinations of their impressario D'Oyly Carte... imagine what might have been. When some of the brightest talent from Britain's opera and theatre companies got together to record Carlton Edwards' and Laurence Phillips' delicious music and words, the musical evening was something very special. More details soon....
The Déja Revue
at the Afterlife Café:
A final performance for the legends of French Chanson. First staged in 1994, this is a celebration of the women of French Music Hall, from Toulouse Lautrec's Jane Avril at the Moulin Rouge to Joséphine Baker's triumphant comeback in 1975. The songs of Edith Piaf (pictured) and Jacques Brel feature in an evocation of the heyday of Parisian Cabaret.
Frolics in Fairyland:
Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Deam made over as an Edwardian Pantomime. With Titania as the Dame and Puck as Principal Boy, the evening features much loved songs by Marie Lloyd and lesser known gems from the golden age of Music Hall.
Pantomimes & Children's Plays
Various pantomimes and Christmas shows including Cinderella (St Georges Theatre Tufnell Park, 2001 starring Carol Decker); Snow White (with original songs written with Carlton Edwards); A Candle and No Gameboy; The Great Teatime Ice Cream Mystery.