Jeremy Legat is currently flying around the Richmond Theatre, playing the boy who never grew up, Peter Pan, in this years panto. Jeremy took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to tell me more about himself and the show.
Can you tell me about yourself and your career highlights to date?
Hello! My name is Jeremy Legat. A bit about myself? Well, I am originally from Croydon in South London, though I grew up near Guildford. I then moved back to London to train at RADA when I was nineteen and now here I am. I’m forever either being asked how to pronounce my surname, or just being boldly mispronounced, so here it is: you stress the first syllable and not the second. I am a Jaffaholic and a champion Ferrero Rocher scoffer. My favourite colour is blue and I am a Scorpio. I take size 9 shoe and my inside leg measurement is… kidding!
Being in Wicked at the Apollo Victoria was a career highlight and the highest profile stage production I have appeared in. On television, it would be the TV film Canoe Man which was based on the story of John Darwin’s life insurance scam, in which I played their younger son, Anthony. The Darwins’ story, I think, is so compelling and the four of us (Bernard Hill, Saskia Reeves, Philip Correia who played my elder brother and me) worked hard to present a believable family unit for that side of the story. When I would talk about the project in auditions or interviews, nobody would ever believe me that the two sons knew nothing of their parents’ scam! Lastly, and personally speaking, I would also state playing Lt. Frank Cioffi in Curtains in Clapham’s tiny Landor Theatre as being an enormous personal highlight for me. I adored and understood this man. Cioffi is an enormous part and is rarely off-stage, so learning the lines was no small task in itself. It’s not often I think this about a role, but I miss playing him to this day.
What is the show about and can you tell me about the character you play?
I doubt I need to tell anyone this, but put simply: Peter Pan is the story of the boy who never grew up. It tells how Peter flies Wendy off to Neverland to be a mother for him and his “Lost Boys” and how he must face, and then ultimately defeat, his arch enemy Captain Hook, whose hand he cut off previously and fed to a passing crocodile.
Mercurial and boastful, wonderful and weird, Peter is the hero of the play. He is thrilling to play, not only because he is such an iconic character, but because he is so hard to pin down. He seems self-centred and self-obsessed for much of the time and I love that in the original play he states that no-one must ever touch him. So, touch him they must not! He does manage to stick up for those in trouble and to cast his magic spell over all who know him: Wendy is utterly transfixed by him, as is Tinkerbell, the Lost Boys and all those around him. I wish I knew his secret!
If we asked your friends to describe you in three words, what would they be?
Oh this is a hard question… so I cheated. Well, not so much cheated, as carried out some market research. This question caught my imagination, so I thought I’d vox-pop some of my friends and ask them directly for the three words they would each use to describe me. Oddly, none of them answered ‘handsome’ or ‘gorgeous’ and so none of these “friends” I asked will be receiving Christmas cards this year. Of the words that are printable (!) the following were the most common: Forthright, sensitive and mischievous. (All of them used mischievous, that was unanimous!)
Do you have any dream roles that you would love to have a go at playing?
All the “dream” roles I would like to play are much older than I am, so I have some waiting to do. There are two Shakespearean roles I have my eye on: Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing and Richard in Richard III. I have also always wanted to play Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady. Is it weird that the roles I want to do are so much older than me? I don’t know. No younger parts have ever really jumped off the page or stage the way these three do, but I love their language and their personalities. Watch this space…
If you could be the opposite sex for the day, what musical theatre role would you like to have a go at playing?
Mama Rose… Gypsy… No explanation required, as they surely don’t come better than this, do they? In musicals, the ladies get all the best parts and the best bloomin’ songs. It has to be this one as three directors in my time have wickedly accused me of Ethel Merman-style delivery. I could use it for my gain here. You’d never believe I’m a classically trained actor!
Do you have a favourite Musical Theatre show or song that means a lot to you?
A song that means an enormous amount to me is ‘On the Sunny Side of the Street’. If you know it, you’ll probably recognise it as one of those from the Great American Songbook. However, like so many of those American standards, it originally came from a 1930s musical, the title of which I forget. The reason it means so much is that I sang it for my Grandad’s funeral four years ago. My Grandma was suggesting favourite songs of his and when we stumbled on this one, well, there was no question. The lyrics and easy lilt of the melody capture him perfectly and make for a wonderful, and very fitting epitaph. I sometimes include it at my own solo gigs and concerts and I love that there is a personal story attached.
Finally. If you were going to name a pet, what theatre character name would you choose?
Now then Wilms, you’ve caught me on a very sensitive subject here, as I am desperate to own a dog. But, alas, for the time being sense must prevail as pets don’t really go hand-in-paw with the actor’s lifestyle. However, just as soon as the Disney Theatrical Company realise that their film Bedknobs and Broomsticks needs to be a stage musical (and that I am the right person to adapt it) then I just might have a dog called Eglantine or Emelius if he’s a boy. This was mine and my sister’s favourite film as children and seriously does need to be put on stage. On a slightly trivial note, though running topically with an Angela Lansbury theme, my Mum has a cat called Jessica Fletcher. So there!
Thanks for having tea with Wilma