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Jake and Sydney Lucas: A Dream Team Playing for Keeps on Broadway

The King and I and Fun Home's preteen MVPs are also each other's greatest cheerleaders.

Sydney and Jake Lucas, stars of Broadway's 2014-15 Tony-winning musicals Fun Home and The King and I.
(© David Gordon)

Broadway loves its brother-sister duos: Hunter and Sutton Foster, Andrew and Celia Keenan-Bolger, the ballet-dancing Fairchilds (Robert and Megan of An American in Paris and On the Town, respectively). Theatergoers pick their favorites like sports fans pledging allegiance to their city's teams. But regardless of your Broadway loyalties, there's no denying that Jake and Sydney Lucas were this year's all-stars. With a combined age that is still a few years short of car-renting privileges, they launched into summer flying the flags of both of the season's Tony Award-winning musicals.

Twelve-year-old Jake performs alongside Kelli O'Hara (for the third time in his young career) as Anna Leonowens' son Louis in the Tony-winning Lincoln Center revival of The King and I. A few blocks south, his younger sister Sydney (one year his junior) stars as Small Alison in the new Tony-winning musical Fun Home — a role that earned the 11-year-old a Tony nomination.

On Tony night, Sydney stole the show when she was given the chance to represent the cast of Fun Home with her gut-wrenching solo number "Ring of Keys." But if you ask her about that day, the first thing she'll do is boast about her big brother.

"Jake's day was very busy," she says. "He had an eight-o'clock dress rehearsal" (for his own part in the Tony Awards ceremony) "and then he went to his show — his three-hour show. Then he came back to the Tony Awards. We were trying to get him to come to all the after parties but he fell asleep at one and the next thing he remembers is waking up in the hotel room."

"Competition" does not seem to be in either of their vocabularies — at least in regard to each other. "We never compete," says Jake. "We just congratulate each other and then sometimes go to sushi. We all love sushi."

The fact that they will never have to vie for the same roles is a merciful perk, but each has had his/her fair share of practice relinquishing the spotlight to the other.

Sydney Lucas in a scene from Fun Home and Jake Lucas in a scene from The King and I.
(© Joan Marcus/Paul Kolnik)

"When Jake auditioned for The King and I and also for Peter Pan Live!," Sydney excitedly recalls, "he found out that he got both of them on the same day! And that day was our mom's birthday!"

Jake landed the role of John Darling in NBC's 2014 Peter Pan telecast (his second time playing O'Hara's son after his run in Far From Heaven at Playwrights Horizons). The program wound up earning 9.1 million viewers and broadcasting Jake's face and talent to a national audience. The King and I, meanwhile, would be Jake's second Broadway gig, following a stint in Newsies.

"I always get chills before I see Jake onstage," Sydney says. "And before Peter Pan Live! I was squealing, 'Oh my gosh, that's my brother! That's my brother! Everybody watch!"

The pride is reciprocated from Jake for Sydney's success in Fun Home — a project that began in the more modest off-Broadway confines of the Public Theater in 2013 before giving the young actress her Broadway debut. The role in fact came on the heels of a harsh rejection from Broadway, losing out on the part of Matilda after making it all the way to final callbacks.

"We were all sitting on the couches in our living room," Jake remembers of the morning the Lucases awaited the 2015 Tony-nomination announcements. "We were waiting for Featured Actress in a Musical…and then we heard [Sydney's] name and I'm like, oh my gosh, my sister's nominated for a Tony!"

Now that both are rocking the eight-show-a-week-schedule in hit Broadway shows, chances to see each other perform are rare. "We cherish the moments that we get to see each other," Jake says. "When I see her, she has this certain subtlety in her acting that just really touches me. I learn a lot from that. Sometimes I'll integrate it into my show." Jake pegs his sister as the actor of the family (who is also "very good at singing"), while labeling himself a singer who can act.

"I watch his technique," says Sydney, admiring her brother's vocal chops. "He has an amazing head voice that is absolutely gorgeous. I'm trying to build my head voice. And he always uses perfect vowels. I'm trying to work to be better."

The Lucases are a motivated twosome, who, like any good teammates, push each other to work harder, and as Sydney simply puts it, "be better." The built-in moral support is an added bonus.

"I definitely appreciate having another person who is going through the same thing," says Sydney. "You can always come home and know that you're able to talk to someone who will get it." After all, outside the Lucas household, you'll be hard-pressed to find another preteen who knows the struggle of staying awake for an all-night Tony Awards victory lap.

Sydney with her Fun Home costar Michael Cerveris and Jake with his onstage mother Kelli O'Hara in The King and I.
(© Joan Marcus/Paul Kolnik)
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