A magna cum laude graduate of Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts, multiple-threat actor-dancer-choreographer-director-producer Jeremy Lucas produced, directed, and choreographed last year’s 99-seat production of Chicago, The Musical, for which he was nominated for the Ovation Award for Best Choreography. 


He is now producing the Los Angeles premiere of The Life, the last Broadway musical written by the legendary Cy (Will Rogers Follies, City Of Angels, Sweet Charity) Coleman. In addition to his numerous choreography credits, Jeremy has starred in countless plays and musicals, most recently as Action in FCLO’s West Side Story. On the big screen, Jeremy’s many credits include leading roles in Foodfight! (opposite Hilary Duff) and Rob Williams’ gay indie Long Term Relationship, in addition to many TV and voice-over credits. We’re grateful that Jeremy recently took a break from The Life to sit down and answer some of our questions about having one of the most varied careers in the biz.

Jeremy as the Emcee in Cabaret

• Hi Jeremy. You’ve got an enormous resumé, with numerous credits as performer, director and/or choreographer, and now you’re producing The Life. How come you decided to stay behind the scenes this time?

Actually, I’m covering the roles of Jojo, played by our friend Ethan Le Phong, and the role of Lou, played by New York-based actor Chris Cobb Olsen.  The director Joe Greene really wanted me to play Jojo, prior to having seen Ethan, and I was really on the fence about it, as I’m producing the show as well. When Ethan came to audition, we all fell in love, Jojo was found … and I was off the hook.  I was then set to play Lou, which is a much smaller role, but my friend Chris made himself available to be part of the project, and so I’m very grateful.

Jeremy in West Side Story

• You’ve performed in a number of dance-heavy shows—Chicago and West Side Story topping the list. Is there any choreographer whose work you particularly enjoy performing?

You just named my two favorite shows by my two favorite choreographers, Bob Fosse and Jerome Robbins, respectively.  I love the grounded yet explosive, athletic passion of Robbins’ choreography and almost equally enjoy Fosse’s sexy, turned in, often contained moves.

Jeremy in FCLO’s West Side Story

• After having toured nationally and performed in big-scale productions like this year’s sensational West Side Story at FCLO Music Theatre, what draws you to our 99-seat houses?

I think this is a really exciting time for L.A. theater. We’re calling Hollywood and Highland our own little generic version of Times Square, and we love that the Stella Adler Theatre is located right there. The people at the Hudson told us after Chicago closed last year, they had a huge laundry list of production companies calling to book their shows there. The bar for L.A. theater is being set higher and higher and I’d like to be part of the mission that makes L.A. a theater town, in addition to the TV and film.  Can you imagine how great it’d be if actors in L.A. 99-seat houses could make even half of what Broadway performers make? Heck, even a quarter of what they make would be better than what they are paid on an Equity Waiver contract.  I know it’s not about the money, and it’s hard for a producer to make their money with only 99 seats, but as the bar gets set higher and higher, L.A. will get closer and closer to being a theater Mecca more on a par with New York … I hope, anyway.

Jeremy (in red) in LTR

• You’ve also done film and TV work, and I particularly enjoyed your performance in Rob Williams’ Long Term Relationship. What was it like making that film? 

LTR was such a life-changing experience both for the good and not-so-good. I was called the night before to replace an actor. They called me directly—didn’t call my agent or manager.  I left messages for both my agent and manager and seeing as it was 10:00 p.m., I wasn’t able to get a hold of either of them.  Rob needed an answer now, as my character had to re-shoot scenes already shot and it was all starting the following morning at 7:00 a.m. After I had hung up with Rob, explaining to him that I needed to talk with my manager before making any decisions, I though for a second—What am I doing?  This would be my first leading role in a feature film.  I called him back and said, “Yes, yes, yes, see you in the morning!”

• So what do you mean when you say it was also “not so good”?

LTR has also sort of ruined me as an actor—and I’m trying desperately to work on this. Let me explain.  Being cast the night before, there was no time for any prep work—something I was definitely not used to, being a big fan of rehearsal.  All my scenes were shot with my first instinct.  I’d read the scene, try like mad to remember my lines, and when Rob yelled action, I was forced to make it my own. It was such a challenging and rewarding experience.  Now, I say it’s ruined me because there have been several films since LTR, I haven’t done any prep work and wanted to shoot strictly by instincts and walked away feeling like I wish I would’ve done a little more homework!

• Why keep coming back to the stage when you live in a film/TV town like L.A.?

I keep coming back because the stage is where I started. I played Shepherd #3 in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever when I was 7 years old in the church play.  How could I turn my back on that 7-year-old shepherd?

• You head up JAXX Educational Theatre School (JETS), which according to your bio combines “typical” kids with special needs kids resulting in a final fully staged musical production. What drew you to this kind of project? How has it been working with kids in putting on a show?

I had experience working with “typical” kids doing musical theater, drama, dance, improv, etc.  My great friend and partner Justine Baldwin works at a school in Glendale.  We started up the program at her school and the first kid to enroll was a special needs kid.  Justine and I had no idea what to expect. Ten casts later and a scholarship named in honor of our first enrollee, we strongly encourage full inclusion, and words cannot express how it makes me feel when the parent of one of my special needs kids comes up to me after a show and says, “Thank you!  You’ve changed my life! You’ve changed my kid’s life!” Whatever I do in this life, wherever I go, whatever I achieve, I can’t imagine anything fulfilling me more than that. It consistently brings tears to my eyes and makes me so very thankful we’re able to bring theater to all these kids—both typical and special needs.

Jeremy (front left) and the cast/crew of The Life

• What can audiences look forward to in this revival of The Life?

I’m hoping for a quicker show. One of the big complaints of the Broadway production was the length. I had the privilege of seeing it twice on Broadway and I loved it.  Jaxx’s mission is to have “electric pacing.”  In this ADD-10-different-MTVs-reality-show-TVs-in-grocery-stores-and-at-the-gas-pump world, we want to move stories along to make them more accessible to more people. That being said, we don’t want to sacrifice content or intention, but as an actor we tend to think of ourselves first and the overall story second.  I’m a fan of giving the audience the benefit of the doubt. They’ll get it.  These days it doesn’t need to all be spelled out and over-felt.  Director/musical director Joe Greene and choreographer Paul Romero, Jr. are doing really fantastic things in rehearsals and the casting is perfect! Managing director Mark Espinosa and the rest of the production team are also the best I’ve had the pleasure of working with in a 99-seat theater. It’s also exciting being the first to do The Life out here, and I think the L.A. audience will be appreciative of getting to see Cy Coleman’s last musical mounted here in the heart of Hollywood.

• I can’t wait to see the show!


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