Craig Lucas
Birth Date:
April 30, 1951
Birth Place:
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
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Craig Lucas_150612
Prelude to a Kiss


Craig Lucas is an American playwright, screenwriter, film and theatrical director and musical actor. His play “Prelude to a Kiss” (premiered on Broadway in 1990) was a commercial and critical success. It earned him a Tony nomination for Best Play and a Pulitzer Prize nomination for Drama. A film version of the play was released in 1992, with Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan. It was scripted by Lucas and directed by his frequent collaborator Norman René.  Lucas won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for his screenplay for “The Secret Lives of Dentists” (2002) and was nominated for the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic for the film adaptation of his play, “The Dying Gaul” (2005), on which Lucas also made his feature directing debut. The celebrated author picked up his second Tony nomination for writing the book for “Light in the Piazza” (2005). Lucas also wrote the plays “Missing Persons,” “Reckless,” “Blue Window,” “Three Postcards,” “God's Heart,” “The Singing Forest,” “Stranger” and “Prayer For My Enemy,” among others.      

Finding his sexual orientation during the 1960s-1970s, Craig later dated partner Tim Melester, who died of complications from AIDS in 1995. The symptom of sickness and loss and the part of drugs in recovering process and killing pain all led him to write “God's Heart.” He was then in a relationship with designer John McDermott for 11 years. Currently, Craig is a single.

Abandoned Child

Childhood and Family:

Craig Lucas was abandoned in a car in Atlanta, Georgia the day he was born on April 30, 1951. A conservative Pennsylvania couple adopted him when he was eight months old. His father was an FBI agent and his mother was a painter and homemaker. He graduated from Conestoga High School in Berwyn, Pennsylvania in 1969 and later received a Bachelor of Arts in theatre and creative writing from School of Fine Arts, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts in 1973. He attended a pre-college acting school at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.     

The Dying Gaul


12 year old Craig Lucas performed as magician and puppeteer at children's birthday parties. In 1973, at the suggestion of his mentor Anne Sexton, the fresh graduate from Boston University headed to New York City to try his luck as a playwright. Lucas took various day jobs while performing in Broadway choruses of “Shenandoah (1975), “Rex” (1976), “On the Twentieth Century” (1978) and “Sweeney Todd” (1979).  While in “Sweeney Todd,” Lucas wrote a musical applying Stephen Sondheim's songs, and was told by the legendary composer/lyricist he should  be a writer instead of a an actor. Lucas has since emerged as one of the most productive and acclaimed writers of his generation.

“Mary Me A Little,” a collection of Stephen Sondheim songs Lucas conceived, wrote and starred in, opened off-off Broadway on October 29, 1980 and closed on December 28, 1980.  On March 12, 1981, the revue re-opened at the off-Broadway Actor's Playhouse, where it ran for 96 performances. “Mary Me A Little” marked Lucas' first collaboration with theatre and film director and frequent partner Norman René. The two would reunite for the plays “Missing Persons” (1981), “Reckless” (1983), “Blue Window” (1984), won the George and Elizabeth Marton Award for Best New Play of 1984, and “Three Postcards” (1987), an original music by Lucas and Craig Carnelia. A film version of “Blue Window” premiered on PBS American Playhouse on June 1, 1987.

In 1988, Lucas wrote the play “Prelude to a Kiss,” telling the story of a couple that falls in love despite the girl's negative expectation on life. Directed by Norman René, who had directed at South Coast Repertory, the play opened off-Broadway at Circle Repertory Company on March 14, 1990 and received positive reviews from critics. The production moved to Broadway on May 1, 1990 at the Helen Hayes Theatre, where it ran for 440 performances. It was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play, a Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play. The film version of “Prelude to a Kiss” was made in 1992, which Lucas himself wrote and co-produced, and René directed. It starred Alec Baldwin as Peter Hoskins, Meg Ryan as Rita Boyle and Sydney Walker as Julius.  

In 1989, Lucas made his screen writing debut with “Longtime Companion,” a drama dealing with the subject of AIDS. The film was directed by René and starred Campbell Scott, Mary-Louise Parker, Patrick Cassidy and Bruce Davison, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his role as David.  

Lucas returned to the big screen when he wrote the film adaptation of his play, “Reckless,” also helmed by René.  The dark comedy starred Mia Farrow, Tony Goldwyn and Juana Barrios and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 13, 1995. Also in 1995, the play “God's Heart” premiered at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island. Two years later, the production moved to Lincoln Center on Broadway, where it received mixed reception. In 1998, the play “The Dying Gaul,” whose title was derived from an ancient Roman marble copy of a lost Hellenistic sculpture, opened Off Broadway.     

Entering the new millennium, Lucas made his stage directing debut with Harry Kondoleon's  “Saved or Destroyed” at the Rattlestick Theater in 2000. He was handed a 2001 OBIE Award for his effort. The play “Stranger” opened off Broadway at Vineyard Theatre in 2000, while “This Thing Of Darkness” (with David Schulner) produced off-Broadway in 2002. In 2002, Lucas wrote the screenplay of “The Secret Lives of Dentists,” an adaptation of the Jane Smiley novel “The Age of Grief,” directed by Alan Rudolph and starring Campbell Scott, Hope Davis and Denis Leary. The film brought Lucas a New York Film Critics Circle for Best Screenplay, a Chlotrudis nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay  and a National Society of Film Critics Award (3rd place) for Best Screenplay.  

Another AIDS themed play, “The Singing Forest” premiered at the Intiman Theatre in Seattle, Washington in 2004. He also wrote the play “Small Tragedy,” which opened off Broadway in 2004.

In 2005, Lucas made his feature film directing debut with “The Dying Gaul,” which he adapted from his 1998 play. Starring Patricia Clarkson, Peter Sarsgaard and Campbell Scott, the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2005, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic category,  and was shown at various festivals before opening in eleven theaters in the United States on November 4, 2005. It grossed $345,041 worldwide.   

“The Light in the Piazza,” a musical with a book by Lucas and music and lyrics by Adam Guettel opened on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre in Lincoln Center on April 18, 2005 and closed later on July 2, 2006 after 504 performances. Directed by Bartlett Sher, the production was very successful and won many Tony Awards. Lucas received a Tony nomination in the category of Best Book of Musical for his effort.

 Lucas returned to the director's chair when he helmed Matthew Perry, Ben Foster, Ginnifer Goodwin and Lauren Graham in the offbeat American family dramedy “Birds of America,”  written by Elyse Friedman. The film premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival on January 24. Later that same year, his play “Prayer For My Enemy”made its New York debut at Playwrights Horizons. The production, which ran from November 14 through December 21, 2008, was directed by Bartlett Sher, Lucas' frequent collaborator, and featured Tony Award winners Victoria Clark and Michele Pawk and Tony Award nominee Jonathan Groff.

2011 saw the premiere of “Two Boys,” an opera in two acts by American composer Nico Muhly, with an English-language libretto Lucas, in London on June 24 by the English National Opera (ENO). Bartlett Sher directed the production.

In June 2013, Melbourne's Regent Theatre is set to host the world premiere (and Broadway try-out) of “King Kong,” for which Lucas has written the book with a score by Marius de Vries.


New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC): Best Screenplay, “The Secret Lives of Dentists,” 2003
OBIE: “Saved or Destroyed,” 2001  Show Less
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