b. Stephanie Kent, 16 December 1949, Hayling Island, Hampshire, England, d. 4 November 2000, London, England. Raised in a showbusiness atmosphere, Lawrence’s mother was dancer Gladys Kent (who formed a children’s dance troupe, the Kent Babes) and her father band leader-pianist George Kent. She first appeared in public at the age of two and, subsequently, intent on becoming a ballerina, she studied classical dance attending the Arts Educational School in Hertfordshire, England. At the age of 12 she was a member of the corps de ballet of the Royal Festival Ballet. Her career plans were disrupted when, at 15, she missed a year after falling ill with pneumonia. Determined to succeed in showbusiness, she worked hard and eventually made her debut in London’s West End as a tap-dancing roller skater in the 1971 production of Forget-Me-Not Lane, later recording songs from the show with Johnny Mathis. She became a member of the popular dance troupe, Pan’s People, which appeared on television’s Top Of The Pops.
Lawrence’s big break came in 1982 when she took over from Elaine Paige in the title role of the West End production of Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice’s Evita, eventually making more than 1, 800 appearances in London. The following year, she took the leading role, of Marilyn Monroe in the Elliott Kastner-Jacques Wilson-Mort Garson show, Marilyn! The Musical. Although Lawrence received excellent notices, the show was a disappointment. Other much more successful West End and Broadway productions in which she appeared include Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers and Lloyd-Webber’s Starlight Express and Cats. Among other notable roles Lawrence played was a stage production depicting actress Marlene Dietrich. Among Lawrence’s film appearances were Buster (1988) and The Phantom Of The Opera (1989). On television she played Mary Magdalene in Doubting Thomas. Following a gruelling four-year run in the USA of a revival of Blood Brothers, she returned to England clearly exhausted. Additionally, she was suffering from depression and alcoholism. In the autumn of 2000, she married her life-long friend, Laurie Sautereau, but two months later she died.