Phil Willmott is a multi-award winning director, artistic director, playwright, composer, librettist, teacher, dramaturg, arts journalist and occasional actor. He trained as an actor at Rose Bruford in the 1980s and was made a fellow of the college in 2012.
He has worked in theatres across the world on everything from classical drama, musicals and family shows to cabaret and cutting edge new writing, he is one of the UK’s foremost directors of Greek Tragedy and one of the country’s most commissioned musical theatre writers.
He is Artistic Director of his own multi award winning theatre company The Steam Industry (incorporating The Finborough Theatre and the West End’s open-air "Scoop" amphitheatre on London’s South Bank) He was co-director of the U.K’s leading degree course in Musical Theatre at London’s Arts Educational School where he was also Head of Acting.
He is a recipient of a UK Theatre Award for outstanding direction of a musical, a Peter Brook Award for his out door classical productions and family shows, whatsonstage award nominations for best regional and Off West End productions, a broadwayworld nomination for Best Musical in the UK, numerous Off-West End Award nominations, a Brooks Atkinson/Royal Court award in New York for Playwriting and four Spirit of Broadway awards.
Successful productions have included the tenth anniversary cast of Fame, Finian's Rainbow, Naked Boys Singing, Nunsense, F**cking Men, Treasure Island and his own musical Lost Boy in the West End, A Midsummer Nights Dream in Dubai, Once Upon a Time in Atlantic City (U.S.) Blowing Whistles (Croydon Warehouse Theatre and Sound Theatre, Leicester Square) The DVD recording of rock musical Poe at the Abbey Road Studios and Liberace’s Suit and I Love You You’re Perfect, Now Change (Jermyn Street) Liza, Liza, Liza (Tabard & UK tour for Bill Kenwright)
Billy Liar, Athol Fugard's Master Harold... and the boys & his own musicals Once Upon a Time at The Adelphi (Liverpool Playhouse) & Around the World in Eighty Days (Liverpool Playhouse, UK tour and German tour) Rent (Olympia, Dublin) Pal Joey (Nottingham Playhouse) Angels in America and Kiss of the Spider Woman (Sheffield Crucible) Cinderella (Brighton Theatre Royal) Eripides’ Trojan War Trilogy, Wagner’s Ring Cycle librettos, Oedipus & Antigone, The Orestia Trilogy, Brecht's The Mother, Don Juan in Love, Toad Hall, Medea, Jason and the Argonauts, Blood Wedding, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Cyclops!, Helen of Troy, Disney's Jungle Book, Oedipus, Agamemnon, Androcles and the Lion, The London Nativity, Treasure Island and Children of Hercules (the Scoop) and many other acclaimed London productions including, The American Clock, The Notebook of Trigorin, Country Magic, Crime and Punishment, The Lower Depths, F**cking Men, The Grapes of Wrath, Trelawney of the Wells and Loyalties (The Finborough) Sweet Charity, Calamity Jane, The Sound of Music, The King and I, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Uncle Ebenezer - a Christmas Carol, Titus Andronicus and the world premiere of Germaine Greer's Lysistrata (BAC) I Love You, Your Perfect, Now Change and Liberace's Suit (Jermyn Street) the UK premiere of Victor/Victoria, Shakespeare's Henry VIII, & Brecht's Arturo Ui (the Bridewell) Measure for Measure (Riverside Studios) The Winter's Tale (The Courtyard) Ring Round The Moon (The King's Head) and Fings Aint Wot They Used To Be (The Kings Head & Union Theatre) Lear (with Lear as a woman) Play of Thrones – The Shakespeare that inspired R.R. Martin) Brecht’s Fear and Misery of the Third Reich, The first UK production of Sondheim’s Road Show, Lional Bart’s Fings Aint Wot They Used to Be, The modern world premiere's of disputed Shakespeare plays Double Falsehood and Fair Em and King John & Measure for Measure (The Union Theatre)
As a writer many of his plays, musicals and adaptations have been published and are regularly produced around the world.
Phil Willmott’s most recent musical, Lost Boy, (a collaboration as a composer with Mark Collins) transferred from the Finborough Theatre for an extended run at the Charing Cross Theatre and imagined the characters from Peter Pan as adults in the First World War. It will be published by Samuel French in 2016 to coincide with the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. Following the success of Lost Boy, Mark and Phil have subsequently completed commissions for Adam Kenwright and Shakespeare’s Globe.
Phil Willmot’s first musical was a finalist for the prestigious Vivian Ellis prize, and his subsequent, internationally published and regularly revived musicals include Once Upon A Time At The Adelphi, commissioned by Liverpool Playhouse (TMA award winner and WhatsOnStage nominee for Best Musical Production in the UK) and its U.S. version Once Upon A Time At The Atlantic City which premiered in Connecticut and won five Spirit of Broadway Awards including Best Score and Best Direction, Around The World In Eighty Days, written for BAC and revived at Liverpool Playhouse, for a UK tour, and a two-year German tour, the Dick Barton Special Agent Trilogy originally commissioned by Croydon Warehouse and revived at Oldham Coliseum, Nottingham Playhouse, The Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch, Theatre by the Lake in Keswick, The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, Greenwich Theatre, New Wimbledon Theatre and at Southwold Rep; and adaptations of Treasure Island and Jason And The Argonauts, all of which continue to be licensed regularly by Samuel French across the globe.
The adaptation of Lysistrata he wrote with Germaine Greer was recently presented as part of the Almeida's Greek Season starring Tamsien Grieg, and his adaptation of Gorki's The Lower Depths is published by Oberon Books.
His recent plays in London include a dramatisation of Wagner's Ring Cycle which played to 40,000 people at the Scoop, Captain Show-Off adapted from the Roman Comedies of Plautus, and Euripides' Trojan War Trilogy (also at the Scoop) Play Of Thrones, a popular amalgamation of the Shakespeare that inspired R. R. Martin (Union Theatre) Encounter, a new gay love story inspired by Brief Encounter (Above the Stag Theatre) and his reworking of Gilbert and Sullivan's Princess Ida which played for a sell out run at the Finborough Theatre in 2015.
He has recently developed shows for Shakespeare's Globe, Bristol Old Vic, Liverpool Playhouse, The New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich, a UK national tour and numerous pantomimes. His latest musical, Princess Caraboo, will premiere at the Finborough theatre in April 2016 and his rock musical of Crime and Punishment with songs by Toyah Wilcox will premiere at the Scoop in August 2016. He has recently workshopped His Indian Boyfriend with songs by Robbie Kinsela and commisioned by Phizzical Theatre at the Theatre Royal Stratford East.
He has written and broadcast on the arts for What’s On Magazine, BBC London Radio and television, Resonance 104.4FM, lastminute.com, Gay Times, Musical Stages Magazine, Attitude Magazine. He is a regular columnist for The Stage and is currently the theatre critic for toplondontheatre.com and Londonboxoffice.com.
His website is philwillmott.org
For Liverpool's Everyman and Playhouse theatres he has directed Much Ado About Nothing, Billy Liar, Athol Fugard's Master Harold and the boys & his own musicals Once Upon a Time at the Adelphi (Commissioned as a centre piece to Liverpool’s year as European City of Culture. Winner: TMA Award “outstanding production of a musical” Whatsonestage award nomination “best Regional Production”) & Around the World in Eighty Days (Liverpool Playhouse, UK tour and German tour).
Elsewhere regionally he has directed Rent (Olympia, Dublin) Pal Joey (The New Woolsey Theatre, Ipswich & Nottingham Playhouse) Beautiful and Damned (The Yvonne Arnauld Theatre, Guildford) Angels in America and Kiss of the Spider Woman (Sheffield Crucible)
A Midsummer Nights Dream ( Dubai) Once Upon a Time in Atlantic City (U.S.)
Pantomime includes two productions of Leslie Joseph in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Richmond Theatre and Theatre Royal, Newcastle for Kudos) Sleeping Beauty (Greenwich Theatre) His own versions of Snow White starring Toyah Wilcox, Richard O'Brian, Warwick Davies and Suzanne Shaw (Milton Keynes Theatre for Ambassador's Theatre Group) Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Robin Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin and Puss in Boots (The Corn Exchange, Newbury) and Dick Whittington for Oxford Playhouse.
cabaret, concerts & events
He has directed cabaret and concert tours of Four Poofs and A Piano , Nonsense - Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen’s collaboration with composer Colin Riley (The Royal Festival Hall) and he devised and directed Ugly Bugs Ball with the BBC Big Band for the Olympic Launch. His community play Don Juan in Kingston launched the Rose Theatre in Kingston with a cast of nearly 200, he has directed on board entertainment for Swan Hellenic's Minerva Cruise Ships and staged The London International Film Awards.
teaching and new writing development
He has led new writing development projects at Soho Theatre and The National Theatre Studio, lectured at Goldsmith's College, RADA and the Brit School and directed students in The Seven Ages of Sondheim, Nicholas Nickleby, Petite Rouge, Sherlock Holmes - The Early Years and Jesus Christ Superstar (Arts Ed) Romeo and Juliet (Central School of Speech and Drama) Dear Anyone (Guildford Conservatoire) Napoli Millionaria, Three Men on a Horse and Backstage (Rose Bruford) The Taming of the Shrew, Howard Barker’s The Possibilities and First Love (The Court Training Company)
playwriting & composition
Published and widely performed musicals include the multi-award winning Once Upon a Time at the Adelphi (and the American version Once Upon a Time in Atlantic City – recipient of four Spirit of Broadway Awards including Best Score and Best Lyrics) The Dick Barton Special Agent trilogy, Around the World in Eighty Days, Uncle Ebenezer- A Christmas Carol, Femme Fatale, Stupid Cupid (Gay Sweatshop) & Treasure Island
Plays including Venom (off West End at The Drill Hall), Stealing the Scene & Mermaid Sandwich (both London Fringe and BBC R4) Succulence (The Royal Court in New York), The Trouble with Listening (Soho Theatre Company).
Adaptations include Lysistrata, with Germaine Greer (BAC) Monk Lewis’s The Castle Spectre (Croydon Warehouse) Gorky’s The Lower Depths (The Finborough) Treasure Island, Euripides The Cyclops, Euripides Helen of Troy and The London Nativity - adapted from the Medieval Mystery texts (The Scoop) and The Master’s Boy (A gay appropriation of Strindberg’s Miss Julie)
Some press quotes
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui – The Bridewell
"Phil Willmott proves why he is one of the most versatile, best and amazingly prolific directors around with this revival. He makes better stage pictures than almost anyone around” THE GUARDIAN
The Adventures of Jason and the Argonauts - Open Air on the South Bank
“A rambunctious family musical.. a romp through mythology” THE TIMES
Angels in America - Sheffield Crucible
“A tough, moving, harrowing production” John Peter SUNDAY TIMES
Around the World in Eighty Days - Liverpool Playhouse and national tour
“Irresistibly Amusing. Tunes by the writer-director echo the style of Old Broadway”. INDEPEDENT ON SUNDAY
Androcles and the Lion - Open Air on the South Bank
“Attention grabbing family entertainment. Unforgettable” TIME OU
Agamemnon - Open Air on the South Bank
“Intensely powerful" THE TIMES
BAC Christmas shows 1995 to 2000 – BAC
Willmott is as talented and resourceful as he is ambitious." TIME OUT
Billy Liar – Liverpool Playhouse
“A triumph” THE GUARDIAN
The Caucasian Chalk Circle - Open Air on the South Bank
“Absolutely Fantastic” – THE TIMES
Country Magic (adapted from Pinero’s The Enchanted Cottage)
“The latest of this excellent theatre's periodic revivals of lost plays” - THE TIMES Crime and Punishment - The Finborough
“Rodney Ackland's classic 1946 adaptation of Dostoyevsky's dark epic, has not been staged in over 50 years. Director Phil Willmott conjures up a St Petersburg fraught with tension” THE EVENING STANDARD
Cyclops! - Open Air on the South Bank
“Very Funny” - METRO
Fucking Man – The Finborough, Kings Head & Arts Theatre
Number One Critics Choice – The Evening Standard
Germaine Greer’s Lysistrata - BAC
“I loved it… fast, broad, silly and profound” INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY.
The London Nativity 2004 and 2006 - Open Air on the South Bank
“Don’t miss this” – TIME OUT
The Lower Depths - The Finborough
“A serious, stimulating and timely revival” THE INDEPENDENT
Loyalties – The Finborough
“Phil Willmott’s excellent revival” Michael Billington THE GUARDIAN
Liberace’s Suit – Jermyn Street
“Phil Willmott’s masterly production” – DAILY EXPRESS
Master Harold… and the boys - Liverpool Everyman
“Phil Willmott’s outstanding Production” - RADIO MERSEYSIDE
Measure for Measure - The Riverside Studios
"This is nothing less than a production to cherish" EVENING STANDARD
Medea (In a new translation by Stella Dufffy) – Open Air on the South Bank
“Siobhan O’Kelly’s compelling performance” THE STAGE A Midsummer Night’s Dream - Dubai
CRITICS CHOICE “Yes, Shakespeare really is that good” - TIME OUT
Much Ado About Nothing - Liverpool Playhouse
9/10 LIVERPOOL ECHO
Naked Boys Singing 2009 – The Arts Theatre
“Funny Moving and Bizarre” British Theatre Guide
Oedipus - Open Air on the South Bank 2002
“A major revival” THE GUARDIAN
Shakespeare’s Henry VIII – The Bridewell
‘Henry VIII as we’ve never seen it before: pacey, atmospheric and modern with a thrilling edge... A breath of fresh air’ EVENING STANDARD
Titus Andronicus – BAC (commended The Evening Standard Theatre Awards)
“Beautifully acted... Willmott has a real eye for the dramatic ironies of this impossible play” THE GUARDIAN
Trelawny of the Wells – The Finborough
A Minor Miracle – THE NEW STATESMAN
Victor Victoria – The Bridewell
Phil Willmott is unequalled as regards intimate musical stagings – FINANCIAL TIMES