Cabot Rea returns to his true love

Richard Ades
Cabot Rea in “My Fair Lady”

After you've been a prominent TV personality for 30 years, what's your next career move? For Cabot Rea, who retired as an NBC4 news anchor in 2015, it's simple: He wants to be king.

King Arthur, that is, the monarch at the center of the venerable musical “Camelot.” “That's always been something I would love to do,” says Rea, who became acquainted with the show while playing Arthur's romantic rival, Lancelot, in a 1981 production.

For Rea, theater has been a lifelong passion, though one that was often relegated to the back burner. After minoring in the subject at Otterbein College (now Otterbein University), he was tempted to follow many of his stage-struck classmates to Broadway. Instead, Rea became a music teacher, a job that allowed him to satisfy his performing urge by joining touring productions during the summer. (And yes, Cabot Rea is his real name—not a tribute to “Cabaret.”)

But even that window closed in 1985, when financial concerns led him to Channel 4 and a career in TV journalism. His new duties made it difficult to dabble in theater.

Now that he's retired, Rea hopes to make up for lost time. He's starred in two musicals at the Northland Performing Arts Center—“South Pacific” in 2016 and “My Fair Lady” in 2017—and is eager to take on his next role. Besides Arthur, he'd love to play Harold Hill in “The Music Man” or maybe Jean Valjean in “Les Misérables.”

“I miss some things about television,” he says, “but what I love about my schedule now is that I can do these things when I want to.”