NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – A New Haven native is making his Broadway dreams come true these days. At the age of 34, Douglas Lyons is a playwright with a show playing at a major theater on The Great White Way right now.
So, how does a kid from the Elm City make it to one of the pinnacles of the entertainment world so quickly?
News 8 caught up with him at his old school, Career High School, to find out.
In the theater world, it doesn’t get any bigger than Broadway. As the famous saying goes, ‘If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.”
That’s exactly what Lyons has done. His first play, ‘Chicken and Biscuits’ is now gracing the stage at the Circle in the Square Theater.
“It ain’t easy,” Lyons told News 8.
The show is an upbeat, high-energy comedy with some ‘tasty’ musical numbers. It’s based in the 34-year-old’s hometown of New Haven.
“It’s a Black family comedy full of love and healing and joy, and I couldn’t be more thrilled that it’s opening at this moment,” Lyons said.
Lyons’ incredible story, at least from a theatrical point of view, began at Career High School in New Haven.
“Absolutely positive kid,” said Monica Joyner, Lyon’s former math teacher at Career High School.
Joyner knew early on he had that special something. As fate would have it, Career High School, a business magnet school, started up a theatre program when Lyons was a junior there.
“I really thought it was divine,” Lyons said.
The next year, he was front and center, scoring the lead role of ‘Tony’ in “West Side Story.”
“You can’t help but smile when you’re around Doug because he’s got that smile,” said Kristen Schimanski, the director of that show.
“When he sings, you stop and listen and that’s what stood out. The other people in the show rose to the occasion because he was out there,” Schimanski said.
“I felt an electricity when a number would end, and people would applaud. I could feel the joy and excitement and I said, ‘this is sort of cool,’” Lyons said.
“He’s always been comfortable on stage, expressing himself with his body, expressing himself with his vocals,” Joyner said.
That starring role in “West Side Story” changed everything for Lyons who hoped to be a math teacher until his debut on stage. Before long, he’d be off to study musical theater at the University of Hartford.
Then, there were more acting roles in touring companies of hit shows like “Rent” and “Dreamgirls.”
“I try to keep myself active and preparing, so there’s never a drought,” Lyons said.
Next up: Broadway with a role in “Book of Mormon” in 2012. From there, the playwriting piece of the puzzle, with “Chicken and Biscuits,” is evidence of just how talented he is on that front.
Career High School Principal Shaun True says Lyons’ story is an inspiration to every student who has talent and big dreams.
“It proves that with hard work and determination and following dreams, that anything is possible and it’s a great learning example for not only the learning community here, but the whole City of New Haven,” True said.
Speaking of dreams, Lyons has one, which is to see his play “Chicken and Biscuits” on stage at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven.
“I’ve sat on that stage and performed. I’ve done recitals on that stage. It would be the dream,” Lyons said.
So, what’s next for Lyons? He says he’s been meeting with producers in Hollywood about bringing another one of his plays to the stage. He hopes to continue to be a dual-threat in the industry as both an actor and a writer in the years to come.