Local Rex Lewis-Clack is lead musician in upcoming LA premiere of ‘The Braille Legacy’

Musician Rex Lewis-Clack

Rex Lewis-Clack, now 26, is well-known around Malibu for his fascinating and unusual abilities — he’s been labelled a “prodigious musical savant” from a very young age despite being blind and autistic. His improbable public keyboard and piano performances around the world over the past two decades have been inspirational and motivational to many because of the challenges he faces.

In his latest endeavor, Lewis-Clack has become part of a troupe of visually impaired actors and performers known as “Theatre by the Blind” that will put on “The Braille Legacy,” a new production at Inglewood’s Miracle Theater, on June 24 and 25 at 8 p.m. The production is being presented by “Artsup! LA,” and got a big write-up in the Los Angeles Times on May 29.

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Photo courtesy Cathleen Lewis.

Written by French author Sébastien Lancrenon with musical score by Jean-Baptiste Saudray, the musical play tracks the story of Frenchman Louis Braille — inventor of Braille code, a system of touch reading and writing for the blind in which raised dots represent the letters of the alphabet. The story follows Braille’s struggles to bring literacy and a better life to the blind in the early 1800s.

“The Braille Legacy” first premiered in London in 2017, but its U.S. premiere here in LA will mark the first time it’s performed by a visually impaired cast.

Lewis-Clack is “lead musician” in “The Braille Legacy,” playing keyboards and singing. “I could play piano before I could say ‘Mama,’” Lewis-Clack told the LA Times. Mozart is one of his biggest musical inspirations “because he was totally in love with music and had the most joyful laugh.”

“The connection to Braille is very meaningful for Rex,” his mother, Cathleen Lewis, wrote. “When he was younger, the educational system had given up on his ever reading Braille due to his extreme tactile sensitivity. And then, all of a sudden, his brain matured around age 12, and the’bumps’ began to be letters and have meaning for him!”

Rex was born and raised in Malibu and graduated with the Malibu High School Class of 2013. He has been profiled three times by Lesley Stahl for the “60 Minutes” television news show beginning at the age of 7. The first profile aired in 2003, the second in 2005 and the third in 2008. In 2011, he was featured on The Science Channel as part of the documentary series “Ingenious.”

As a result of his TV exposure, he began receiving invitations from around the world to play his music, and began traveling to selected engagements with his mother. They tended to favor events that allowed him to perform in the context of education or fundraising. Lewis-Clack’s biggest repertoire is in classical music, but he can also improvise on a given theme or play selections of other styles.

“This is an extremely important milestone in his life, coming into his own musically and leading this whole production of “The Braille Legacy” to the stage after multiple stops and starts due to COVID,” Cathleen wrote.  

The production process has been followed for the past two-and-a-half years by film crew for a documentary, which Netflix has expressed interest in. 

“One of the documentary crew told Rex two days ago, after filming a rehearsal of the play, ‘Rex, you are really the rock of this production,’” his mother related. “This was quite moving to hear after Rex had such a precarious early life.”

To purchase tickets to “The Braille Legacy,” go to:  artsupla.org/braillelegacy.html.