Tommy Lueck in the Sunset Spotlight. Tommy is currently directing our fabulous summer musical ANYTHING GOES. He has been involoved with Sunset for many years and played the role of Billy Crocker in the 1990 production of this wonderful show.
- When did you first become involved in the Sunset Playhouse and what areas ha ve you been involved with here at the Playhouse?
I first became involved at the Sunset Playhouse when I was a boy, at age eleven in the production of The Music Man under the direction of Alan Furlan in 1980. Then in 1983 I played the role of Baby John in West Side Story. After that I did a few other productions including Life With Father and then during College came a whole slew of Sunset Playhouse Productions including Godspell, The Fantasticks, My Fair Lady, Baby and Anything Goes! I also worked on the lightboard as an operator and assisted with a lot of scenic painting and building. So it has been about 26 years since I played Billy Crocker in Anything Goes, and I’m delighted to be directing this incredibly talented ensemble of actors and musicians. All together, Sunset has been my creative home for close to 40 years. It has shaped my life in so many wonderful ways and has been my mentor and my family.
- If you are working on a Sunset show right now, what is your role?
Currently I am Director of Anything Goes, the summer musical at the Sunset! I’ve directed The Drowsy Chaperone, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Stage Door, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and now Anything Goes. I love directing, and also do it at Brookfield Central High School, where I am also a teacher. I also perform at the Sunset for the Musical Mainstage productions and occasionally the Cabaret Series in the Studio with BoyGirlBoyGirl, and The Four Guyz in Dinner Jackets.
- What has been your favorite role to date, and what is your dream role?
My favorite roles at the Sunset was probably Matt in the Fantasticks in 1987, and Billy Crocker In Anything Goes in 1990. I also enjoyed playing Doody in Grease. Probably my favorite professional role was Jack in Into the Woods at the Skylight Opera Theatre.
- What do you enjoy most about the Sunset?
Alan Furlan always liked to talk about the true meaning of the word amateur. Whereas most people think that amateur means non professional, Alan taught us that the literal translation of the work means, A lover of.. Alan taught us the meaning of amateur in so many ways. I love for collaborative work, a respect for all people and all contributions, the importance of personal integrity and the real joy that comes with being able to help others learn and grow. That’s pretty much what the Sunset is all about to me.
- When not at the Sunset, how do you spend your time?
Wow! When not at the Sunset, I am an educator at Brookfield Central High School. I teach Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Advanced Placement Psychology and Musical Theatre. I am in three different performance groups that perform around the Midwest to varying degrees. BoyGirlBoyGirl is a vocal Jazz quartet that has performed at the Sunset along with Four Guyz in Dinner Jackets. I am also the head vocalist in Swing Nouveau, Milwaukee’s WAMI AWARD winning Big Swing Band. I live in Brookfield with my wife Nikki, and enjoy attending other fine arts events.
- What is your favorite color/food/movie/tv show/book/musical/play?
Movie: The Wizard of OZ
TV Show: Jimmy Fallon
Book: The Wizard of OZ
Musical: Les Miserables and The Fantasticks
Play: On Golden Pond
- What is your favorite Quote?
Nobody tells this to people who are beginners; I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But our taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past t his phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of t his. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work t hat you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through. – Ira Glass