There aren’t many actors who can point to Star Wars, Evita, and “I Love Lucy” as inspirations for their careers, but Rey Lucas, George Gibbs in Long Wharf Theatre’s production of Our Town, is one of them.
When Rey was a kid growing up in New York, he didn’t know that people could actually become actors. It just wasn’t in his immediate framework growing up. “I thought I was going to be a lawyer. I thought it was the legal part, but it was the performance that interested me. I also realized that I was not going to be the catcher for the Yankees, so what am I going to do?” said Lucas, who previously appeared at Long Wharf in The Old Man and the Sea.
It wasn’t an easy question to answer. But different things came up that nudged the idea of being a performer more into Lucas’ mind. Like any kid who grew up in the 70s and 80s, Star Wars was nothing but mind-blowing. “The movie helped open up my imagination,” said Lucas, who remains an ardent sci-fi fan.
A steady diet of old sitcoms like “I Love Lucy” introduced the idea that actors could mirror something happening in the real world. “My mom was French and my dad was Dominican. ‘I Love Lucy’ was the only show that was remotely representing what was happening in my house,” he said. “If I hadn’t seen that as a kid, I don’t think I would have known I could pursue this for a living.”
The final piece of the puzzle fell into place when he went to see Evita on Broadway. “I thought ‘Oh, that’s cool.’ I want to be up there and do that,” he said. “It was as magical as Star Wars.”
Lucas didn’t have drama at his high school, but he did have a unique performance equivalent. He participated in the school’s competitive speech program, known as dramatic interp. Lucas would perform snippets of scenes alone, portraying all the characters. “I was psyched to do it. I did A Man For All Seasons, The Foreigner,” he said.
It wasn’t until he appeared in a couple of plays at Wesleyan University that he truly thought a life in the theatre would be possible. After a few years in the working world, Lucas enrolled at the Yale School of Drama, where he was the second oldest person in his class, and has been working ever since. “I’ve always been a late bloomer in every way. As long as my opportunities seem to be get better. That’s what I hope for,” he said. “You have to be willing to stick around. The longer you stick around the better chance you have of your number being called.”
— Steve Scarpa