Paul Truckey: from Broadway to NMU

Cody Boyer

“Tomorrow we’ll discover what our God in Heaven has in store. One more dawn. One more day. One day more.”With enormous voices and an even larger reputation, “Les Miserables” has established itself as one of the greatest Broadway musicals of all time.

Jean Valjean pays the Thernadiers in “Les Mis.’” Left to right: Devin Murphy, Paul Truckey, Andy Lawrence, Monica Noreen and Ethan Burke. (Kristen Koehler NW)
Jean Valjean pays the Thernadiers in “Les Mis.’” Left to right: Devin Murphy, Paul Truckey, Andy Lawrence, Monica Noreen and Ethan Burke. (Kristen Koehler NW)

While schedules might actually tell you that the NMU production of “Les Miserables” is not happening tomorrow, the highly-anticipated event’s lead actor has experienced many “tomorrows” with the show over the course of more than 15 years of involvement with the award-winning musical.

Associate professor Paul Truckey, who will be lending his voice as lead protagonist Jean Valjean in the upcoming November productions of “Les Miserables” at Forest Roberts Theatre, has appeared in “Les Mis” performances as lead roles both on Broadway and in National Touring Companies since 1995.

Following years of performing in the professional version of the show, Truckey said “Les Miserables” has been a part of his existence for a long time.

“My 30s were basically ‘Les Mis,’” Truckey said. “I started doing it on the road in road productions. We are talking about a national tour, for people who don’t know. It’s basically the Broadway company on the road.”

Truckey said he auditioned for “Les Mis” in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he was asked to come to New York when he was told they did not have an opening on the tour. After auditioning again in New York, Truckey said he was hired on and he started traveling with the company.

“After that, I was right out on the road with the show,” Truckey said. “The first place I got to perform was El Paso, Texas. That’s where I met up with the tour.”

According to the National Touring Companies Directory, companies that travel on the road to bring performances to places other than venues on the famous Broadway Street are replicas of shows performed directly in New York. Truckey said the company he was with was no different.

“We were managed by a company called Alan Wasser Associates,” Truckey said. “The company measured for all of Cameron Mackintosh’s shows, like ‘Phantom [of the Opera],’ ‘Miss Saigon and all of the shows that were running at the time. They all put on a roadshow that is equal to a Broadway show, so when you are seeing it in a town near you it is the same thing you are seeing. It’s a genius way of being able to bring Broadway to somebody in Iowa who can’t get to New York City.”

Truckey said his time on the tour was short compared to what was going to happen next after his two years on the road.

“From there, I was done, I thought,” Truckey said. “Two years of doing that, you know, you are living out of a suitcase. I wasn’t living in New York. I was just living on the tour. That was it. I didn’t have an apartment. They called me into the office and they said that the role that I was playing was open on Broadway and they wanted me to come to Broadway, which was huge for me. I did that for four more years in New York.”

During his “Les Mis” career, Truckey has appeared on the Today Show, the Rosie O’Donnell Show and the 1998 NBA All-Star Game Halftime Show. With his experiences with the 10th Anniversary original Broadway cast, Truckey said the differences between the professional production of the show and the production at NMU will not exist.

“I’m awfully fond of saying that theatre is no different to me anywhere I do it,” Truckey said. “It’s not and I mean that. I’m not trying to be nice. When a play starts and I am on the stage, it doesn’t matter where I am. It’s the play. That’s the way it is, whether there are 2,000 seats or there are 50. The play is the play is the play while I am doing it.”

Director Ansley Valentine said bringing Truckey’s experience and talent into the show is going to be something worth seeing.

“Paul played in Les Mis for several years, so he knows the show and the characters on an incredibly intimate level,” Valentine said. “Consequently, he brings a lot from his past experience with the show, so there is not much for me to do toward helping him develop his character. He is a pro, and will bring his experience to the stage.”

Looking away from “Les Mis,” Truckey has also performed in “The Fantasticks,” “The Problem,” the original company of “Utah!,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” “Nine,” “Romeo and Juliet” and many others.

Performances of “Les Miserables” are will be hitting the stage Wednesday, Nov. 13 through Saturday, Nov. 16. Tickets are available at the EZ Ticket Outlet, the Forest Roberts Theatre and online at tickets.nmu.edu for $10 for general public and $5 for students with ID cards.

“The students are fantastic,” Truckey said. “I’m going to tell you right now that everybody should get tickets to see this thing because it is going to be awesome, and not me. The kids are incredible. I’m not kidding you. I sit out there at night and I’m listening and they sound exactly like the Broadway show. There is no difference.”

For the full interview, you can click here: https://www.thenorthwindonline.com/?p=3868695