Best Bets: Dover-born Lucas competes on ‘The Titan Games’

Kyle Lucas, 27, who was born in Dover while his father Rodney was serving at Dover Air Force Base, will be one of the contestants on the new physical competition television show “The Titan Games,” premiering Jan. 3 on NBC. (Submitted photo)

A journey that started in Dover has led Kyle Lucas to the biggest TV battleground ever constructed.

Mr. Lucas will compete on the physical competition series “The Titan Games,” produced and featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The show premieres Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. on NBC.

The 27-year-old was born in Dover while his father Rodney served at Dover Air Force Base for two years. His family left Dover for Panama and other parts of the world when he was just 6 months old. But his late grandfather retired from the base and his grandmother, Retha Whitley, along with some aunts and other family members, still live in Dover, a place to which he has returned frequently.

Mr. Lucas followed in his father’s footsteps to the U.S. Air Force in August of 2015 and has settled into the space program in Colorado Springs, Colorado, working as a systems operator on a team that is responsible for 35 satellites constantly in rotation that provide coverage for the world’s GPS.

Another competitor on “The Titan Games” is his 25-year-old brother Tyler, also in the Air Force, stationed in Germany as a computer administrator.

Kyle Lucas said the two thought the show would be a good chance to compete against each other, although he was quick to not reveal whether they did indeed get to go against each other on the show.

“Our whole athletic career we have never really had the chance to compete against each other to see who was the more athletic brother,” he said.

Kyle had previously applied to be on the Netflix competition show “Ultimate Beastmaster” but didn’t quite make the grade.

“When it came down to final cuts, a casting producer said to me ‘We will really like your stuff. But we’ll have to keep you in mind for other shows.’ I just thought at the time, there was no meaning behind it and that was that,” Mr. Lucas said.

“But in February I got a call saying that there was this new show produced by The Rock. They said we got your name from ‘Ultimate Beastmaster’ and they invited me to audition.

“When I got out to California for the show, the lead casting producer was the same person I had spoken to from ‘Ultimate Beastmaster.’ He had kept his word, which really impressed me.”

He said the application asked if he had any friends who might be interested in being on the show. He pitched them the idea of bringing his brother on board and they were both accepted.

A side benefit of the two of them competing was the fact that they hadn’t seen each other for a year and a half prior to the show.

“I last saw Tyler at his wedding in California in April of 2017. He and his wife moved to Germany a few months later and I really didn’t know when I was going to see him again,” Mr. Lucas said.

“Seeing and spending time with him was the most special part of the whole thing”

In each episode of “The Titan Games,” contenders battle in head-to-head challenges. The winner of each battle moves on to “Mt. Olympus” to take on another contender to test speed, agility, endurance and strength. Each contender must win to be crowned a Titan and advance to the semifinals.

If the Titans can win here, they will earn the opportunity to compete in the finals where they battle it out in one last test of strength before advancing to Mt. Olympus one final time.

One man and one woman is crowned the winner in the 10-episode series.

“The Titan Games” set sprawls across a 6-acre compound that took four weeks to construct at Irwindale Speedway in Irwindale, California.

The main feature, Titan Arena, stands nearly 70 feet and features challenges up to 32 feet tall. It is the biggest outdoor structure ever built for an athletic competition TV series.

“It’s just massive. It’s so amazing,” Mr. Lucas said of the set, which includes an obstacle course called “The Mountain” filled with grueling challenges.

He said he was fairly prepared for the events, which he called “crazy” and “hard to describe.”

“The tryout back in July gave me an idea of what to expect as far as lifts, carries and runs,” he said.

“I felt like I came in prepared and it wasn’t too daunting.”

Mr. Johnson was on the set the entire time the show was being filmed.

“Everything you see on TV and on social media is how he is in real life. He’s just a very cool dude, very genuine,” Mr. Lucas said of “The Rock.”

“At the end of each day, he would shake each competitor’s hand and thank them for being there, which meant a lot. He could have come in, filmed his parts and not interact with anyone. But he took the time to talk to everyone, which was great.”

With all 10 episodes completed but not yet aired, Mr. Lucas can’t say a word to anyone as to how he fared on the show.

“Everybody wants to know how I did constantly. Every day at work someone will ask me what happened and say ‘I won’t tell anyone. I swear’ and I just have say ‘Tune in on January 3,’” he said.

“I’m not going to say anything. I just want everybody to be surprised to see both me and my brother.”

Bells of Remembrance

A unique gift to the Delaware Symphony Orchestra will ring in the holidays.

The Franciscans have donated seven of their Bells of Remembrance to the orchestra. These bells, to be called the William Kerrigan Symphony Bells of Remembrance, each have specific pitches that correspond to requirements for certain musical works in the traditional symphonic canon.

For instance, the two largest bells, a 1,200 pound, 42-inch diameter bell pitched at G, and a 550 pound, 30-1/2-inch diameter bell pitched at C, are nicknamed the Berlioz bells, as they are used in the final movement of “Symphonie Fantastique” by Hector Berlioz. Other popular works that require bells in this collection include “Pictures at an Exhibition” and “Night on Bald Mountain” by Modest Mussorgsky.

“This is such an amazing and unique gift by The Franciscans, and something that sets apart the Delaware Symphony from, pretty much, any other U.S. orchestra,” said DSO Executive Director Alan Jordan.

DSO Music Director David Amado agreed, noting, “most orchestras resort to tubular bells, or chimes, in performances that call for these bells, but the sound is notional, at best. When the DSO performs with these bells, audiences will hear exactly what the composer intended.”

The Franciscan Center of Wilmington established a collection of large-scale bells that grew to more than 20 in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The first victim of those attacks was Father Mychal Judge, O.F.M., a Franciscan Friar of Holy Name Province, who was chaplain for the New York City Fire Department. He was also a mentor for Brother David Schlatter, who was based in Wilmington at the time and spearheaded the Bells of Remembrance effort.

The Delaware Symphony recently received seven of the Franciscans’ Bells of Remembrance. They are currently stored in the garage of music director David Amado. (Submitted photo)

Over the years, the bells have been featured at events commemorating 9-11, fallen armed service men and women, firefighters, police officers, and other victims.

More recently, Brother David has been overseeing the donation of bells for permanent placement, including four “Bells of Consolation,” delivered to a memorial honoring the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and two bells gifted to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shankesville, Pennsylvania.

William Kerrigan is the longtime principal percussionist of the DSO, who worked with Brother David to identify and secure the seven pitched bells that comprise the collection donated to the DSO.

While the DSO looks for a permanent storage space for the bells, transporting trailer, and other equipment, the collection will be stored in the garage of Mr. Amado’s home in Wilmington. In addition to using the bells when specifically called for in repertoire, they will be featured during other DSO performances, including outdoor concerts such as the city of Wilmington’s July Fourth concert.

Last summer, honorary bell ringers (including the mayor and police and fire chiefs of Wilmington, philanthropist Tatiana Copeland, the retired adjutant general of the Delaware National Guard, and Star Wars characters Darth Vader and Boba Fett) rang the bells during the finale of the “1812 Overture” at the Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park concert.

“We will work to make these bells available for other organizations, too,” said Mr. Jordan, “as long as we can work out the insurance and transportation details. Moving a 1,200 pound bell cannot be left to UPS.”

Arts grants available

The Delaware Division of the Arts has opened its annual online application process for grants for arts programming and projects taking place during fiscal year 2020 (September 2019–August 2020).

Applications will be submitted through the new smARTDE online system and are due by 4:30 p.m. Friday, March 1.

The guidelines and applications for all grant programs have been revised and streamlined.

Visit arts.delaware.gov/grant-overview/ to access the full guidelines for each program and a description of the grant review process. Some organizational grants are available throughout the year on a rolling deadline basis.

Now Showing

New in theaters this weekend is “Aquaman 3D”; the “Transformer” movie “Bumblebee 3D”; the Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy “Second Act”; Steve Carrell in the comic fantasy “Welcome to Marwen”; and the long-awaited sequel “Mary Poppins Returns.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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