Thomas Lawlor as Pish-Tush in 1966 film The Mikado

Thomas Lawlor (1963-71, 1971, 1974-75)

[Born Dublin]

Bass-baritone Thomas Lawlor was born and educated in Dublin. Following three years studying singing at the Guildhall School of Music, he joined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company chorus in September 1963. During his first two seasons with the Company he made the occasional substitution in the smallish named parts of Guron in Princess Ida (1963-64) and Second Yeoman in The Yeomen of the Guard (1964-65).

In July 1965, following the departure of Jeffrey Skitch, Lawlor assumed three principal roles:Counsel to the Plaintiff in Trial by Jury, Strephon in Iolanthe, and Pish-Tush in The Mikado. In May 1966, he added Second Yeoman when Anthony Raffell left the Company briefly. Raffell was back when the new season began in August 1966, but left again in April 1967. Lawlor then reclaimed Second Yeoman and added Guron as well, Princess Ida having been restored to the repertoire that month. For the 1967-68 season, Lawlor would give up Second Yeoman, but would take over the far more important role of Giuseppe in The Gondoliers from Alan Styler. He had filled in for Styler as Giuseppe and as Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore on occasion the season before. During the 1967-68 season he also filled in for George Cook as the Sergeant of Police in The Pirates of Penzance.

When Alan Styler left the Company in June 1968, Lawlor took over three of his roles:Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore, Florian in Princess Ida, and the Lieutenant of the Tower in The Yeomen of the Guard, giving him seven principal parts for the 1968-69 season, the others being the Counsel, Strephon, Pish-Tush, and Giuseppe.

With the departure of George Cook, and the promotion of John Webley, the 1969-70 season found Lawlor taking over as Sergeant of Police, but giving up Pish-Tush. When the 1970-71 season began, Lawlor added Sergeant Bouncer in Cox and Box, but yielded the Counsel and Strephon to Webley. Lawlor would leave the Company in April 1971 to join the Glyndebourne Opera Company. He returned to the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company briefly as a guest artist in August 1971 to perform as Florian in Princess Ida at the Royal Festival Hall. He would have one more guest engagement with the Company:again as Florian:from December 1974 to March 1975.

During his tenure with the D'Oyly Carte, Lawlor recorded Second Yeoman in The Yeomen of the Guard (1964) and Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore (1971), as well as portions of a 1970 highlights LP called "Songs and Snatches." He also was in the 1966 film version of The Mikado as Pish-Tush.

While he ostensibly left the D'Oyly Carte to pursue a career in grand opera (he appeared in more than 60 roles at Covent Garden and with such groups as English National Opera, Sadler's Wells Opera, Kent Opera, Netherlands Opera, and Opera North), he was often in demand for Gilbert & Sullivan. He appeared as Sergeant Bouncer in the 1972 "Gilbert & Sullivan for All" film, and repeated the role in the 1982 Brent Walker television production. In 1987 he recorded Dick Deadeye and Sir Roderick Murgatroyd with New Sadler's Wells Opera productions of H.M.S. Pinafore and Ruddigore, and in the early 1990s performed with the London Savoyards as Dick Deadeye, the Mikado in The Mikado, and the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance.

Lawlor also sang at music festivals in Wexford, Hintlesham, Camden, Singapore, Valencia (Spain), Colorado, and Michigan. As artistic director for Beavertail Productions, he devised and directed a production entitled Gilbert & Sullivan: a life, presented in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, in March 1996.

His marriage to D'Oyly Carte mezzo-soprano Pauline Wales ended in divorce.

Page created August 27, 2001 © 2001 David Stone