The family on opening night of Big Fish: (from left) mother Nancy Voigts, daughters Lucy and Gaby Godinez and father Henry Godinez. Credit: Provided by Godinez family

Lucy Godinez, 26, has been on stage for much of her young life. Her mother, Nancy Voigts, was acting in a Marriott Theatre performance of Ms. Cinderella in the title role when she learned she was pregnant with Lucy.

In 2019, mother and daughter worked together in Footloose, another Marriott Theatre production.

Henry Godinez. Credit: Provided by Northwestern

So it shouldn’t be much different for Lucy and her father, Henry, a director, to work together in the same production – or is it?

For Henry, the issue is clear: He always recuses himself from casting decisions. No exceptions.

“I can’t have a say in this. If the producers or the casting people want to cast her, that’s their decision,” Godinez said.

Godinez is a professor and chair of the theater department at Northwestern University’s School of Communication. At Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, he is the resident artistic associate and also served as the director of the Goodman’s Latino Theatre Festival.

A production he directed, Big Fish, is playing at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, where Lucy plays the part of The Witch, with a knockout solo right at the top of the first act.

This is the third production in which Henry has directed Lucy, following Anna in the Tropics in 2016 (while Lucy was a sophomore at Northwestern) and American Mariachi in 2021 at the Goodman.

(From left) Gaby Godinez, Nancy Voigts, Lucy Godinez and Henry Godinez on the set of Big Fish during a break in rehearsals. Lucy is holding Gaby’s dog, Bruno. Credit: Provided by Godinez family

In Big Fish, Lucy was cast in the part by the casting directors and producers. Her father was told after the fact.

“It was the producers’ idea,” he said. “When we started casting … we were just talking about the process. And they said, ‘Oh, you know, we know this actress who we think might be great for The Witch.’

“And I said ‘Really?’ They were like, ‘Lucy’ and I said, ‘Oh, whatever, I can’t be involved in that.’ And just before we started, about two weeks later, they called me and said they had just cast her.”

Is being related to the director awkward for either of them, or the other cast members? 

Lucy Godinez. Credit: Provided by Marriott Theatre

“I tend to overcompensate,” Henry said. “In American Mariachi, I wasn’t giving Lucy the same notes [feedback] or attention that I was giving other actors. But God bless her, Lucy called me on it. The next day I spoke to the whole company and said, ‘OK, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.’ And it was fine.” 

Lucy added, “Everyone already knew, because this was about the fifth day of rehearsal. And everyone found out on the first day. ‘Oh, that’s your dad?’ I was like, ‘Yeah.’ People don’t genuinely generally care.” 

“I think people don’t care because Lucy has forged her own career and everyone knows she’s totally deserving of being in these shows,” Henry said.

What does Lucy call her dad at work? “I don’t call him anything,” she said, laughing. “I know, I know. I just go … [waving motions] … I’m not even kidding. I say, ‘Um, excuse me.’ Only in a very small group I might call him Dad.” 

Lucy and her younger sister, Gaby, grew up around theaters. Both attended Evanston Township High School and that’s where Lucy decided to pursue a career in theater – much to her parents’ dismay. 

“My parents were like, ‘Please don’t do this. Please get a real job. Please make money and don’t do this.’ And I just couldn’t listen,” Lucy said. “High school was where I really decided that I was in this. And it was through my experiences doing the musicals at ETHS and doing YAMO. I am exceedingly lucky that that was my high school theater experience.”

As for what’s next, Henry has some directing projects he’s considering. And the day after Big Fish closes in March, Lucy begins rehearsals for School of Rock at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora.

Wendi Kromash

Wendi Kromash is curious about everything and will write about anything. She tends to focus on one-on-one interviews with community leaders, recaps and reviews of cultural events, feature stories about...

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