This former actor and chorus performer made the move to writing in the early 1980s. With encouragement from composer Stephen Sondheim, Craig Lucas fashioned a two-character musical "Marry Me A Little" (1980-81) using Sondheim trunk songs. The show, which was mounted Off-Broadway by the Production cemented a long association with the late director Norman Rene. In 1984, Rene staged Lucas' "Blue Window", a drama about seven New Yorkers at a dinner party which made typical use of fantasy and seemingly banal conversation to make pointed comments about life and relationships. (PBS aired a TV version in 1987.) Admittedly not to everyone's taste, Lucas' work displays a talent for infusing seemingly mundane events with poignancy and deep feelings. "Three Postcards" (1987) was a charming chamber musical written with Craig Carnelia that covered the lives of three life-long female friends who meet for lunch. This jewel of a show was overshadowed by larger, more "popular" fare and did not have the run it deserved,<p>Distressed over the lack of Hollywood's response to the AIDS crisis, the openly gay Lucas wrote one of the first high-profile features to center on the disease. "Longtime Companion" (1990). Directed by Rene, it is a well-acted but structurally flawed depiction of the devastation felt by the gay community. Co-star Bruce Davison earned a richly deserved Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination and there was also strong work from Campbell Scott, Stephen Caffrey, Mary-Louise Parker and Mark Lamos. The team's follow-up, "Prelude to a Kiss" (1992), adapted from Lucas' 1990 play, was a romantic fable in which a dying old man switches bodies with a young bride on her wedding day. The story centers on the husband's struggle as he finds himself attracted to the dying old man over his sexy wife. Though it could be read on many levels, many saw the story as a modern day fairy tale for those who lives are touched by AIDS as the play and the film both pose questions on the nature of love and acceptance. In 1995, Rene and Lucas reteamed again for the feature adaptation of "Reckless". Adapted from the 1988 play, the film follows the adventures of a woman whose husband confesses to hiring a hitman to kill her on Christmas Eve. She escapes and seeks refuge with a couple who are not what they seem. A darkly comic fantasy, "Reckless" is quintessential Lucas, mixing fantasy and realism and raising pointed issues about how society treats outsiders and those perceived as "different".<p>With Rene's 1996 death from AIDS complications, Lucas lost his longtime collaborator and mentor. Filling the void was actor-turned-director Joe Mantello who staged a 1996 revival of "Blue Window" and then steered "God's Heart" in its debut at Trinity Rep in Providence, RI. While the latter met with mixed to negative reviews in its NYC premiere, it raised several interesting points about the growing influence of technology. Perhaps inspired by his own forays into film work. his drama "The Dying Gaul" (1998) detailed the effects of power and money on a screenwriter whose work is optioned by a Hollywood producer.