Phil Willmott

phil willmott
Phil Willmott is a well known writer, director and theatre critic who’s latest show Lost Boy is currently playing at the Finborough Theatre before transferring to the Charing Cross Theatre. I caught up with Phil to find out more about himself and this new show of his.


Can you tell me about yourself and your career highlights to date?

I’m a writer/director and I’ve worked in theatres across the world on everything from the classics, musicals and family shows to cabaret and cutting edge new writing. I’m also Artistic Director of THE STEAM INDUSTRY incorporating The Finborough Theatre (under the Artistic Directorship of Neil NcPherson) and GODS AND MONSTERS producers of London’s annual Free Theatre Festival at the open-air “Scoop” amphitheatre on the South Bank.


Tell me about your new musical Lost Boy and how it came about.

It so happened that a year or so ago I was adapting an Edwardian children’s classic whilst researching a forthcoming project about Jung and another set during the Great War. Walking across Waterloo Bridge in the rain with it all whirring around in my head, it suddenly occurred to me how many of the first children to read what is widely considered a golden age of children’s literature must have been slaughtered in the First World War. For a generation of boys, their rite of passage to adulthood began with the sunny carefree adventures of Toad, Pan and Fauntleroy and ended with them naively leading men into the slaughterhouse of the trenches. Would that have been the fate of the Lost Boys?

As I began to wonder what kind of commanding officer Peter Pan would have made, this plot tumbled into my head. I ducked into a cafe to scribble it all down and whenever I’ve lost my way in the various rewrites and workshops I’ve always returned to those first notes to get me back on course to keep things from the heart.

The project has also allowed me to explore the pressures of “becoming a man”, whatever that means. As a secretly gay, weedy, teenager, the whole world seemed to be telling me that I’d never have what it takes. One of my dreams for Lost Boy is that it might use a British icon to empower insecure teenage boys, in the way that Wicked uses US icons to empower teenage girls.


If we asked your friends to describe you in three words, what would they be?

Busy, Creative, Tall.


Lost Boy is running for two weeks at the Finborough Theatre before moving to the Charing Cross Theatre for a further five weeks. Why did you decide to spread the run across two venues?

We wanted to allow as many people as possible to see it so the plan is to fine-tune it at the 50 seat Finborough then move it to the 200-seat Charing Cross Theatre from January 13


With so many theatre shows failing these days, do you feel there is more pressure than ever to try to make this show succeed and how have you dealt with this pressure?

All you can ever do is your best. Financial pressure or not, we all have a responsibility to present our audiences with the best show we can to ensure they keep coming back to theatre.


Do you have a particular favourite moment, song or line in this show?

I like it when the adult Wendy scolds the adult Peter Pan for still standing legs apart with his hands on his hips. “Grown meant don’t unless they’re in an Operetta!”


Peter Pan is known as the boy that never grew up. If you had to choose between never getting old, or being able to fly, which would you choose?

Not getting old. There’s no good news about aging!


Do you have a favourite Musical Theatre show or song that means a lot to you?

I saw the National Theatre Production of Guys and Dolls as a kid when it toured to the Bristol Hippodrome. I was in heaven. I went back again and again and since then I’ve always wanted to bring that joy to an audience. Co-incidentally it starred the young Andrew C Wadsworth as Sky who’s now starring as Captain Hook in Lost Boy.

Thank you for having Tea With Wilma

Click here to buy tickets to see Lost Boy at the Charing Cross Theatre for just £19.50