The end of the Club 24601 series is upon us and this week we feature the current London Jean Valjean, and the one who gave me the title, Peter Lockyer. Although Lockyer was the first JVJ I spoke to, I left him until last in order to bookend with the current Broadway JVJ, Alfie Boe (Boe was our very first featured Club 24601 interviewee but the last to actually be interviewed!). It just seemed apt.
Lockyer, it turns out, has considerable history with Les Mis but not on these shores. His first Les Mis role was Marius in the 10th anniversary Broadway production and he also took this role when the show premiered in China – Colm Wilkinson was JVJ. Roll forward a further ten years and Lockyer was directing an amateur production of Les Mis in Hawaii and there was considerable difficulty in not only casting but also retaining, an actor in the starring role so Lockyer took up the challenge. Thus it was in an amateur production that he first played JVJ. Shortly after this, Lockyer was approached by the Les Mis team with a view to playing JVJ on the 25th anniversary US tour and possibly in Toronto. As we know, Toronto didn’t happen (the role went to Ramin Karimloo) but he was cast in the 25th anniversary tour and played in over fifty cities all over the USA. The tour finished, life went on and then Cameron Mackintosh asked Lockyer to sing for him on Broadway – the audience also included Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil, both of whom Lockyer had known and worked with in Miss Saigon amongst other projects. He was then offered the part in London and is now well into his second year as JVJ. Recently, Lockyer sang with John Owen-Jones, Geronimo Rauch and Colm Wilkinson at the 30th anniversary gala performance:
Locker says that the role of JVJ is “the best role in musical theatre – it goes through so much of life, everything is there on the stage”. However, the iconic nature of the role and the music means that it can be quite daunting to think about. To combat this, Lockyer tries to empty his mind of everything but JVJ before he steps on stage in order that the audience “only sees the story, not Peter Lockyer playing the role”. Along with everyone else interviewed, Lockyer enthuses about the incredible score and how it has the power to move people just as much today as it did when it first opened. In Lockyer’s words, “you can’t hear the opening chords of the show and not feel something”.
Aside from the comment about the role being too daunting if you thought about it too much, there is nothing that Lockyer dislikes about the show. He also found it difficult to choose a favourite moment, plumping instead for all the little moments on stage such as Drink with Me for being part of the ensemble and the epilogue because it is so moving.
Thank you to all the Club 24601 participants – I’ve really enjoyed this series of interviews and listening to all the various versions of Bring Him Home. Yes, I do have a favourite (after Alfie of course!) but I’m not going to tell you yet! Please do leave a comment though to tell me your favourite.
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