'Hopefully I can inspire others to follow their dream': Sedgley stage star Lawrence ready to fly in Peter Pan at Birmingham REP
He was born and raised in Sedgley. And little did Lawrence Walker imagine that within a few years of starting his professional career as an actor he’d be back home in the West Midlands headlining one of the region’s biggest festive shows.
The former Dormston School pupil will feature in Peter Pan at Birmingham REP. The Black Country lad will be taking on his first major leading role it will also be his first time flying on stage – and it won’t be the standard way of flying on a wire, he’ll be using a relatively new and versatile way using bungee ropes.
Lawrence has appeared on stage at The REP previously in a new play, Back Down, and also at the RSC in another version of Peter Pan (he played Tootles). This will be a brand new re-imagined version of Peter Pan, transposing it from London 1904 to Birmingham 2019 in order to make the story much more relatable and relevant for today’s audience. The show runs from November 30 to January 19.
Lawrence said: “My first experiences came at the Mill Bank Theatre, where I spent my teenage years. I went to King Eds College, in Stourbridge, then drama school in London. Birmingham REP is brilliant though and it’s great that people from the Black Country and Birmingham can come and see a great show this Christmas.”
Following last year’s acclaimed retelling of The Wizard Of Oz, director Liam Steel will bring the classic Peter Pan story into the 21st century with a new version set to make audiences fall in love with the family favourite all over again.
Wendy and her little brothers are feeling lost. Separated from their mother, they’ve been sent to live in a flat high up above the city. Then one night, a remarkable flying boy arrives offering her an escape. The boy’s name is Peter Pan and he invites Wendy and her brothers to fly away with him to a magical world beyond their urban reality. A world of mischievous Lost Children and boundless dreams called Neverland. But there’s danger lurking – it’s also a place of malicious mermaids, feisty fairies and the devious Captain Hook, who is plotting on Skull Island with a band of fearsome pirates. Can Wendy defeat them to save her new-found friends?
Director Liam Steel said: “Christmas at Birmingham Repertory Theatre is always a magical experience and 2019 is set to be extra-special. We are creating a brand new re-imagined version of Peter Pan specifically for our audiences. All the beloved characters will be there (albeit with some surprise twists in the casting), but we have transposed it from London 1904 to Birmingham 2019 and made the characters much more relatable and relevant for a modern day audience.”
Lawrence started acting at 13: “I thought I was alright at it and quite liked the spotlight. The first thing we did was We Will Rock You and I can’t sing a note to save my life. We did The Tempest as well. A teacher who really encouraged me was Miss Bridgland, though she’s never seen me act. Hopefully she’ll come to The REP.”
At King Eds, Lawrence studied A levels in drama, dance, philosophy and English. “I dropped English after a while. A guy called Sean Passey was the drama teacher. He really helped me with my drama school audition.
“I did two-and-a-half years at drama school and haven’t looked back since. You get so stressed when it’s time to move on but it all happened within a week for me. I got an agent, got an audition – I was still at drama school – then things have gone on since then.
“I’ve been in work pretty much ever since. I’ve had other jobs to stay afloat. You can be working three months then not.”
Lawrence also spent time at the RSC. “It’s funny because I did Peter Pan but I was playing Tootles. Now I’m playing Peter. I feel so grateful when I walk into work. You have to remind yourself where you’ve come from because it’s so great. I love it. It’s great to be back in Birmingham and hopefully I can inspire others to follow their dream.”
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