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till a relatively young man, actor Peter Lockyer has celebrated some significant anniversaries with the beloved musical, Les Miserables. Lockyer played chief revolutionary Marius on Broadway in the show’s 10th

anniversary production in 1997. Now, he has graduated to the lead role of the heroic but hunted Jean Valjean for the current 25th anniversary tour, playing at San Diego’s Civic Theatre from Tuesday, August 28 through Sunday, September 2. A native of Connecticut, Lockyer also spent time in Canada while growing up and has traveled to such exotic locales as China and South Korea in prior tours of Les Miserables. He along with his actress wife, Melanie—who is conveniently in rehearsal with the new musical Allegiance at the Old Globe this

month—even lived in nearby Long Beach for two years. Lockyer generously spoke with The Rage Monthly from San Francisco last month before moving to Southern California.

How long have you been with this tour now? Three months. It’s been fantastic, best show ever.

How has the experience of playing Jean Valjean been for you? It’s arguably the best role in musical theatre. I’m three months in now and I think

a lifetime could be spent getting to know this character. It’s sort of a spiritual les- son to me every day, to remember to love and not become cynical.

Why do you think this story and the musical has such an enduring appeal? I’ve said it before; I think Victor Hugo’s novel is so sprawling and epic with so

many characters that I think it represents all of human life. Each character repre- sents some aspect or facet of the human experience. And then of course, it has an amazing score, one of the best scores in the musical-theatre canon.

What have been some of the key changes with the staging of Les Miserables since you first appeared in it 15 years ago? All the technological changes, which are mostly visual changes, that just hit

you in the face. The direction is also different, the original production had a poetic majesty to it—this production is grittier and more in your face. It gives us a new lens to view the story through. I find it interesting that technology is being used in a new way that kind of combines theatre and cinema, not only in Les Mis but in other shows as well.

Would you say this production of Les Mis holds any special appeal or message for LGBT viewers? Wow, I’ve never thought about that but yeah, absolutely. The message of this

show is to love another person—to see the face of God is to love another. In this time when we’re fighting for marriage equality, I think that message is absolutely powerful. Plus, it’s musical theatre, come on! (Laughs)

Any thoughts about the upcoming movie version of Les Mis (scheduled for release this Decem- ber and starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway, among others)? We can’t wait! When you’re doing a show or tour, you feel like you own it, but we (the tour’s cast) have all seen the trailer and we were all just completely silent.

It looks great! I think what worked great in Sweeney Todd with more naturalistic music and voices will work great in Les Miserables. I’m excited to see it.

What have been some of your other favorite roles or memorable show experiences? Les Mis is part of my life and life’s blood. Other shows have touched me in dif-

ferent ways: Miss Saigon, by the same writers as Les Mis; La Bohème on Broadway, during which I learned so much from working with director Baz Luhrmann (also known for the movies Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge and this year’s The Great Gatsby); and Cyrano: The Musical.

How about the 1993 made-for-TV version of Gypsy, which starred Bette Midler? Gypsy was my second professional job and then I got cast in my first Broadway

show. We rehearsed Gypsy for a long time at the studio in L.A. before we shot it—so it was more like a Broadway show and Bette was amazing to work with. It was also an odd experience because the director, Emile Ardolino (who also directed Dirty Dancing and Sister Act), was dying of AIDS complications at the time. We all wondered whether he would be well enough to show up to work each day, which he did. It was very sad when he died shortly after we wrapped production.

Anything else you’d like to say to The Rage Monthly readers? Whether it’s your first time or your 12th time, come see Les Miserables!

For Tickets and information call 619.564.3000 or go to

“The message of this show is to love another person—to see the face of God is to love another. In this time when we’re fighting for marriage equality, I think that message is absolutely powerful.”

AUGUST 2012 | RAGE monthly 21

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