Graham Luker: The Boy Who Became Peter Pan
With movie star good looks and a personality filled with Southern charm, it’s difficult to imagine Graham Luker as a lost boy looking for a place to be himself. But, in a way, that’s what he is.
Born in the small town of Smyrna, Tennessee, the middle son of a high school football coach, Luker set out on a path to be an All-American football player. He spent the majority of his youth playing a number of sports and actually held a middle school shotput record! But, he says, even in those days, he knew his journey would take him to the stage.
“Theater for me, is the opportunity to be anything I want. As a kid, I wanted to be a number of things: An astronaut, a paleontologist, a doctor, a fireman, a psychologist, a cowboy, a pirate – and I’m sure many more that I’ve forgotten.” Family photos document a young child on a box in the living room singing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” wearing a leather jacket and sunglasses. At age ten he had his first encounter with Broadway seeing “The Lion King.”
“It was the most magical thing I have ever seen,” says Luker. “The moment the curtain went up with “The Circle of Life” playing as pride rock spiraled onto the stage in an artificial sunrise, I said “That! That’s what I want to do!” Through the following years, Luker has worked his way up from playing a Nazi in “The Sound of Music,” to leads in numerous shows, and now to Peter in “Peter and the Starcatcher.”
The actor says he can relate to the role of the boy who became Peter Pan on many levels, some “deeply personal:” A wish to “just be a boy,” to “always be a kid,” and to “play pretend for life.” He sees the role as a unique opportunity – a chance to experience the character’s joy, made more meaningful by the character’s suffering.
For Luker, the show is “a breath of fresh air” every time he steps on stage; a rejuvenation. “I honestly have become five years younger over the course of the process. It isn’t every day you get to be Peter Pan! I am definitely enjoying it while I can!”
“Peter and the Starcatcher” plays April 27–30. 618/453-6000 – theater.siu.edu