Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera are the longest-running musicals in the West End, and for most musical theatre actors/actresses, the chance to perform in either one is a dream come true. To be able to add both to the resume is an accomplishment to be especially proud of though, and one individual who has joined that elite group is stage actress Joanna Loxton. Having previously been in the company of The Phantom of the Opera, she is now appearing in the West End production of Les Miserables at the Queens Theatre as a member of the show’s ensemble. She can also be found here in the ranks of In Profile, as the featured ensemble member for this edition of the popular series which highlights the talents of ensemble performers in West End shows.
Joanna Loxton, who originally hails from Burgess Hill, West Sussex, is a well-established West End performer with a wide range of theatre credits to her name. As a youth, she attended dance lessons at the Drusilla Duffill Theatre School and is also a former student of the Brit School of Performing Arts. She went on to train at the Guildford School of Acting (GSA), the renowned Surrey-based drama institution which has had such stage stars as Dianne Pilkington, Michael Ball, Celia Imrie, Daniel Boys, Lauren Samuels, Carline Sheen, Alex Gaumond and Helena Blackman pass through its doors on their way to stardom. She graduated from GSA in 2004 with a BA (Hons) in Musical Theatre.
Professional roles post-graduation include playing Mabel in the Broadway version of The Pirates of Penzance, directed by Tim Flavin, at the Guildford Yvonne Arnaud, as well as being part of the original London cast of Marguerite. The new musical, which additionally gave her her first taste of a Boublil and Schönberg show, premièred at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 20th May 2008 (previews from 7th May) and starred Ruthie Henshall, Julian Ovenden and Alexander Hanson. Other cast members included Annalene Beechey, Gay Soper, James Doherty and Siubhan Harrison, with Loxton performing in the ensemble. She also features on the cast recording for Marguerite, which ended its original run in the West End on 13th September 2008.
She has a special relationship with another West End show: The Phantom of the Opera. She first became involved with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical back in 2005, when she made her West End début as a Swing in the West End production at Her Majesty’s Theatre. After a year in the company, she joined the ensemble full-time and appeared onstage playing such characters as a Page in Don Juan Triumphant, in addition to becoming 2nd Cover Madame Giry. She left Phantom in September 2007, but returned to Her Majesty’s Theatre four years later to become part of ‘The Brilliant Original’ once again. Her year-long role in the show was in an ensemble capacity, playing Madame Firmin, but she was also 1st Cover Madame Giry this time and appeared onstage in the principal role on numerous occasions, to great acclaim. Rejoining Phantom in September 2011 meant that she was a member of the West End company for the show’s 25th Anniversary, which granted her the opportunity to be involved in the anniversary celebrations at the Royal Albert Hall. Loxton called it an “honour” and a “gift” and likened the experience to “one big extended happy family reunion”.
She also got to be involved in Les Miserables’ milestone birthday, featuring in the celebratory concert of the show at the O2 Arena in 2010 and as a Swing in the 25th Anniversary Tour production, which starred John Owen-Jones (Valjean), Earl Carpenter (Javert), Madalena Alberto (Fantine), Katie Hall (Cosette), Gareth Gates (Marius) and Jon Robyns (Enjolras).
Since leaving The Phantom of the Opera again in 2012, she has performed in such musical theatre productions as Dear World, the Jerry Herman musical which made its UK première at the Charing Cross Theatre in February 2013. Directed and choreographed by Gillian Lynne, the show ran from 4th February to 30th March 2013 and starred Betty Buckley and Paul Nicholas alongside such names as Rebecca Lock, Stuart Matthew Price, Katy Treharne, and of course, Joanna Loxton.
Her other theatre credits include A-Z of Musicals at the Emporium Theatre, Brighton, West End Has Faith at The Actor’s Church and the cast recordings of Les Miserables (25th Anniversary) and The Tale of Two Cities (international cast).
She resumed her relationship with Les Miserables last year when she joined the West End company at the Queens Theatre, as part of the show’s June 2014 cast change. The major shake-up included the new introduction of principal performers Peter Lockyer (Jean Valjean), David Thaxton (Javert), Tom Edden (Thernadier), Celinde Schoenmaker (Fantine), Michael Colbourne (Enjolras) and Emilie Fleming (Cosette). Loxton is currently appearing in the ensemble team as Factory Girl/Whore.
Loxton has already accrued an impressive list of credits in her stage career thus far, but still has a lot of opportunities ahead of her. One of her ambitions is to tackle a comedy role, citing Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors as one she would like to play. She certainly has a lot going for her though; blessed with heaps of talent, Loxton is sure to go far. In the GSA Musical Theatre Showcase back in 2004, The Stage described Loxton as a “shimmering operatic soprano” in her performance of ‘Poor Wand’ring One’ from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. I’ve heard her sing on a number of occasions and she is a performer in possession of a great gift.
Joanna Loxton has a very bright future ahead of her and I am looking forward to seeing this young star rise even higher.
You can follow Joanna on Twitter: @Joloxton
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Saturday 31st January 2015