Adam Luckey signs off the Jan. 30 recording of Red Barn Radio with a big wave and steps away from the microphone at ArtsPlace.
"You've got a great voice," says Susan Musselwhite, vocalist for Grand View Junction, the guest artist that evening on the bluegrass showcase.
Luckey brings to his new radio gig a voice trained for the theatrical stage, on which he has played leading roles in Shakespearean plays such as Hamlet and Othello. But Luckey is also an artist whose interests include music — he had lead roles in music-centered shows such as Sideman; fronted a band; and composed music for Balagula Theatre's upcoming production of Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?, in which he plays the lead role, Martin.
"It all comes from the same vein," Luckey says. "It's just getting up in front of folks and speaking with them or to them, not at them."
That said, working in radio and in theater are two very different things, particularly when it comes to Luckey's current endeavors.
The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?, which opens Sunday and continues for two consecutive weeks, is Albee's story of a man who develops a peculiar relationship with the title animal. The story, which explores limits of tolerance and perceptions of normality, is a different world from the music Luckey helps present on Red Barn: American roots music as native to Kentucky as its soil.
"I love the sound that those instruments make — love the sound of the banjo, the fiddle and the mandolin," Luckey says. "The high lonesome sound, the harmonies, I guess I'd always been closer to it than I thought."
A South Carolina native who moved to Lexington when he was a teenager, Luckey, 39, says he became more appreciative of Kentucky music while working with the theater program at the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort.
"The deep musical heritage we have still boggles my mind," Luckey says.
Red Barn producer and director Ed Commons says he hopes Luckey will bring to the show a fresh perspective on bluegrass music and how to present it. Luckey took over from host and musician Brad Becker, who left after a decade at the microphone.
"I was really impressed with who he was as a man, and I was surprised at his interest in what we were doing," Commons says of Luckey. "After we brought him on, I found out what respect he had in the community. People said, 'You got Adam? That's great.'"
Luckey has recorded a handful of episodes of Red Barn, which will start airing in Central Kentucky soon on WUKY-91.3 FM and WEKU-88.9 FM.
Hosting the show with Grand View Junction, his questions for members of the Indiana- and Northern Kentucky-based band covered how they found their instruments and gravitated toward bluegrass music, and included the role of parents in urging children to stick with instruments.
"Now I can ask the questions that I didn't know from bluegrass musicians or wanted to know more about," Luckey says.
For one of his closest collaborators, Balagula co-director Natasha Williams, Luckey's new role as radio host is no surprise.
"He's a natural emcee," Williams says. "Any time we had a program here where we needed a host or a master of ceremonies, we'd call Adam."
The same is often true when they need an actor.
The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? finds Luckey doing what he is known best for in Lexington: plumbing the depths of a character who is hard to grasp or sympathize with.
"I've played some despicable people in my career," says Luckey, whose roles have included Iago in Othello and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice. Of The Goat's Martin, he says, "He's not despicable, but he's certainly got something in him that is completely different from everyone else."
After seeing the play, if anyone needs assurance Luckey himself is a regular guy who love bluegrass music like his fellow Kentuckians, they just have to turn on the radio.IF YOU GO
'The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?'
What: Balagula Theatre's production of Edward Albee's Tony Award-winning play.
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 10-13, 17-20.
Where: Natasha's Bistro & Bar, 112 Esplanade
Tickets: $18 adults, $12 students; call (859) 259-2754 or go to Balagula.com.
IF YOU GO
'Red Barn Radio'
What: Weekly taping of bluegrass radio show.
When: 7 p.m. Wednesdays
Where: ArtsPlace, 161 N. Mill St.
Tickets: $8 at the door
Upcoming guests: The Danberrys, Feb. 13. Sue Massek, Feb. 20. Don Gallardo, Feb. 27. Dix River Crossing, March 6. (Note, Luckey will not be hosting Feb. 13 or 20.)
On air: Red Barn Radio airs at 8 p.m. Sat. on WUKY-91.3 FM and 9 p.m. Sat. and 3 a.m. Sun. on WEKU-88.9 FM. Episodes air several weeks after recording; shows hosted by Luckey are expected to start airing this weekend or in coming weeks.