This summer, Luke Bayer took over the role of Mark in Hope Mill Theatre’s production of RENT when it reopened after being paused last year due to the pandemic and performed in the show for their run from 6th August to the 19th September. Also this year, Luke has played Woof in Hair at the London Palladium, been part of Millennials at the Turbine Theatre (having released See You from the show as a single in 2019) and performed in the UK premiere of I Could Use A Drink in the West End. While theatres were closed last year, Luke reunited with the cast of FIVER for an online streamed concert after being in the original sold-out run at Southwark Playhouse in 2019. Over his theatre career so far, Luke’s recent shows have included playing Robbie in Soho Cinders at Charing Cross Theatre and being part of the original West End cast as Swing and cover Jamie in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, and he then went on to become the Alternate Jamie, making appearances at West End Live and on Children in Need. Luke has also performed in many concerts, which has seen him work with Lambert Jackson and perform at Cadogan Hall with Main Men of Musicals and he will be performing with Natalie Paris on the 11th October for their upcoming concert An Evening with Bayer and Paris at the Crazy Coqs. Catching up with Luke during his run at the Hope Mill, he talks to us about returning to theatre with RENT, playing Robbie in Soho Cinders and his time in the West End production of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.
Can you tell us about being cast as Mark in RENT at the Hope Mill Theatre?
I feel especially lucky that I’ve been a part of RENT at the Hope Mill in Manchester playing Mark. This production has been a huge blessing from the first day of rehearsals until now (we only have a week left 💔😭). RENT is one of my favourite shows ever, I am a HUGE RENT head and to join this iconic production with this sensational cast has just been so amazing. The production team have been so warm and supportive and the Hope Mill team, everyone that works there, are just a JOY!
Earlier this year, you performed as Woof in Hair at the London Palladium, how was this?
I LOVED performing in Hair at the Palladium! It was a whirlwind of an experience, but the team were a dream! I can’t even explain the feeling of being stood on the Palladium stage singing Let the Sun Shine, especially after having not been able to be onstage for what feels like the longest time.
What was it like being part of the cast of Millennials at the Turbine Theatre and how did you find the experience recording See You for the single release in 2019?
I absolutely adore Millennials. Elliot (Clay) is a very good friend of mine and when he asked me about recording See You in 2019, I instantly said yes. He is a phenomenal writer and talent and I am so excited to see him soar! Millennials at the Turbine was sooooo much fun. We were all a little sad when it finished. We had such a great little team, led by Katy Richardson and Luke Sheppard (who are just the dreamiest and who I’ve been lucky enough to work with again recently on RENT) and I think when Millennials finished, we were all like okay, so where and when can we do it next?! Watch this space!
Can you tell us about the UK premiere of I Could Use A Drink and what was the response like to the stream?
I Could Use A Drink has been another little diamond of a project I’ve been extremely lucky to be involved with. I’ve loved and listened to that album for YEARS. The songs are SO bloomin’ good, and so hard to sing (I have to add) that for years I was terrified of them, lol! Sometimes you’ve just got to throw yourself in, hey! Being able to perform the show in the West End too was another huge blessing!! I feel extremely lucky and never take any of these opportunities for granted. We had so much fun, I hope we get to sing this gorgeous music again soon.
After the successful run of FIVER at Southwark Playhouse in 2019, the cast reunited last year to perform an online streamed concert, what was it like returning to FIVER?
It was so wonderful to return to FIVER. The love I have for that team! It will always have such a special little place in my heart. The fact we got to perform it again, and during a pandemic was pretty bloomin’ special! And how cool that we managed to record a cast album eventually too! The album was so funny because we literally pestered Tom (Lees) and Alex (James Ellison) until they eventually just had to give in, sorry boys, we love you!
What did you enjoy most about being part of the original sold-out run in 2019?
The sold-out run of FIVER was unreal. That’s kind of the fun thing with a new show. You never know how audiences are going to take to it so when people fell in love with it we were absolutely buzzing! I love that show so much, here’s hoping that we get to do it again at some point! Crosses fingers.
How did it feel booking the role of Robbie in Soho Cinders at Charing Cross Theatre and what was he like to play?
Robbie was such a fun part to play. I love the story of Cinderella and Stiles and Drewe write some beautiful, beautiful music, I’m looking at you, Glass Slippers! I met two of my best friends on the show, Millie O’Connell and Jade Bailey and we just had so much fun. Such a gorgeous team again behind the show and it was so much fun to play on stage each night.
You were in the original West End cast of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie as Swing and cover lead character Jamie, how was your time in the show and what was it like then being cast as Alternate Jamie and performing the role on a regular basis?
Jamie was the most incredible experience! I will never forget getting that call. Just as I was about to quit, my confidence was so low and I genuinely didn’t think I had it in me. Jamie was my last push, I went into the audition and I’ve never enjoyed myself more. The team were super supportive and the whole experience looking back now was absolutely crazy! I was lucky enough to perform on Children in Need as Jamie and at West End Live, it was truly surreal. Becoming Alternate was also so wonderful, having my own scheduled shows was so fab and it really meant I could play around with my Jamie and find new things every time. I learnt so much from watching John McCrea (The Original Jamie), he was truly stunning in that role and I would sit in the box and watch him in awe!
You’ve previously been part of MT Fest UK’s workshops of Tyrell and But I’m a Cheerleader, and also performed at West End Live, can you say more about this?
I absolutely adore MT Fest, The Turbine Theatre and Paul Taylor-Mills. New work is an actor’s dream. You get to play around, find new things and create characters. Paul is an utter legend and is always finding and creating new opportunities for undiscovered work to be showcased. I feel extremely lucky to have been part of MT Fest and love going to watch the shows there every year. There is so much undiscovered talent and new writing that we are still yet to see, and it is just so bloomin’ exciting!
Having also workshopped Prom Queen the Musical, what was this like?
Prom Queen was a joy. The show is now called The Louder We Get, Colleen (Dauncey) and Akiva (Romer-Segal) who wrote the music are utter sensations and legends. The music is gorgeous and it was so special to work on a new show, based on a true story (we love a true story!) and I met some really great friends on the show. It was a short little run but here’s hoping we get to do it again, before I get too old, and I mean, I’d love to dye my hair blue like Marc Hall!!
Do you have any favourite theatre shows to watch and which shows would you like to see open in the West End?
I absolutely love Come From Away, following on from the above, I LOVE a true story and the cast, music, everything is just excellent. So cleverly told, moving, funny. It has a bit of everything. As soon as RENT finishes and I’m back to London, that’s one of the first shows on my list to revisit!
You’ve performed in a number of concerts including with Lambert Jackson and at the Crazy Coqs, what do you enjoy most about performing at concerts?
I LOVE performing in concerts. It’s a different energy to being in a show. You meet so many people and the adrenaline rush is wild. Generally for concerts you don’t have as long to rehearse and dependant on the kind of concert, for example, the one I have coming up 11th October with Natalie Paris (one of my best friends/I’m a huge fan/how can she sing like that??!) will be super informal and conversational with the audience. It’s fun to be able to sing and have a drink and just enjoy that space in that moment with whoever is there, and sing songs that we want to sing. Lambert Jackson are utter legends, the kindest most supportive people and Main Men of Musicals, that I did with them soon after finishing Jamie, at Cadogan Hall still to this day remains one of my favourite concerts I’ve done. Ben Forster, Liam Tamne, Trevor Dion Nicholas and ME?! How did I end up in this line-up with these legends? People I’ve looked up to for years. The vocals were silly good and absolute top blokes!! If Lambert Jackson ever want to do a 2021/2022 revival of Main Men of Musicals and take it on a tour or something, count me in!
In 2019, you were cast as Matthew Barnes in Ackley Bridge, how did you find the experience filming the role and being on set of the show?
Ackley Bridge was a wonderful experience. So different to theatre and my first professional acting experience for TV. I was honestly terrified, and needn’t have been. The people were so warm and kind. It was SO much fun. I would love to do more of this some day. It’s such a funny experience, filming something, kind of hoping you did okay and then waiting for months to see how it actually came out. I always find it surreal how you look on camera, I saw it and was like, oh is that me?! So funny isn’t it…
How does it feel now theatres are reopen and what are you looking forward to most for seeing live theatre return?
I am THRILLED theatres are now reopen and I am so excited to get back into theatres to scream and cheer for my friends and to see what amazing theatre we have coming up!! See you there ❤️
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