Soprano Rebecca Luker, a three-time Tony nominated actress who starred in some of the biggest Broadway hits of the past three decades, died Wednesday. She was 59 years old
Her death was announced by her husband, veteran Broadway actor Danny Burstein, who said in a statement: “Our family is devastated. I have no words right now because I am deaf. “Luker went public in 2020 and said she was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also called ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Luker was a Tony nomination for best actress in 1995 and played Magnolia in “Showboat”, 2000 nomination for best actress for Marian in “The Music Man” alongside Craig Bierko and 2007 nomination for best actress as Winifred Banks in “Mary Poppins” . ”
Honors flooded social media, including from Broadway stars like Laura Benanti, who Luker described as “humble, loving and kind” with a “golden voice that would wrap you in peace”. Seth Rudetsky said it was “a great loss to Broadway and the world”. Kristin Chenoweth tweeted that Luker was “one of the main reasons I wanted to be a soprano,” and Bernadette Peters called her “one of the most beautiful voices on Broadway and a lovable person.”
Luker was known for sticking to shows for longer runs. “Yes, I am the queen of long runs,” she told the Connecticut Post in 2011. “I don’t know if I’m lucky or if it’s a curse. But it’s just the way it happened to me, and it’s mostly a good thing. “
In 2013 she appeared in an off-Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s “Passion”. In addition to many stage credits, Luker was seen on television in “Boardwalk Empire” and “The Good Wife” as well as in the 2012 film “Not Fade Away”. Her other off-Broadway credits include “Death Takes a Holiday”, “Indian Blood” and “The Vagina Monologues”.
Broadway stars Stephanie J. Block called Luker an “angel faced and angelic spirit,” and LaChanze took to Twitter to describe Luke’s death as a “great loss to American theater”. Tony winner Michael Cerveris said: “There was no one more humble, unexpectedly funnier or more glorious than she sang.”
Luker and her husband starred in an episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” in which they played the parents of a transgender youth who was killed in an accident after being bullied.
Luker was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. She received a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Montevallo, where she later received an honorary doctorate.
Luker made her Broadway debut in 1988 in “The Phantom of the Opera”, first as the understudy of Sarah Brightman and then as Christine against the legendary Michael Crawford. “I’ll never forget it. It was an out-of-body experience. He was so nice though and I’ll never forget that,” she told Playbill in 2016.
She had Broadway roles in “The Sound of Music” and as original Lily in “The Secret Garden”. In 2003 she replaced Antonio Banderas in “Nine”, in “Fun Home” in 2016 and in “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” in 2013/14.
Her albums include “Greenwich Time”, “Leaving Home”, “Anything Goes: Rebecca Luker sings Cole Porter” and “I Got Love: Songs by Jerome Kern” with 14 classics from “Bill / Can’t Help Loving That Man” “To” My husband’s first wife. “She also recognized the legendary Barbara Cook at the 2011 Kennedy Center Honors.
The narrow-minded wife of a small town minister played her last stage role in a Kennedy Center production of “Footloose” from 2019. Her last appearance was in June in a Zoom benefit performance “At Home With Rebecca Luker”.
In addition to her husband, two step-sons, Alex and Zach, Luker survive.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits