Rebecca Luker

Rebecca Luker (born April 17, 1961) is an American actress, singer and recording artist who has appeared in several musical theatre productions on Broadway. Luker's voice type is soprano. The New York Times has compared her to actresses such as Barbara Cook and Julie Andrews. She has been nominated for three Tony Awards and two Drama Desk Awards, and she is featured on opera star Plácido Domingo's recording, The Broadway I Love (1991).

Life and career

Luker was born in Helena, Alabama, the daughter of a high school treasurer and a construction worker. She attended the University of Montevallo, earning a BA in music, taking a year off in 1984 to perform in Sweeney Todd as Johanna Barker (also starring Judy Kaye as Mrs. Nellie Lovett) at the Michigan Opera Theatre.

Luker's Broadway debut was in The Phantom of the Opera in the role of Christine (1988–91). She was originally an understudy for principal actress Sarah Brightman and her alternate Patti Cohenour. Luker later took over the role after Brightman and Cohenour left the show. Subsequent Broadway roles include Lily in The Secret Garden (1991–93), Magnolia in Show Boat (1994–97; the first actress to be nominated for a Tony Award for this role), Maria in The Sound of Music (1998–99), Marian in The Music Man (2000–01), and Claudia in Nine (2003). She played the role of Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins from 2006 to 2010. She later replaced Victoria Clark as Crazy Marie/the Fairy Godmother in the Broadway production of Cinderella for an engagement that lasted from September 2013 to January 2014. Luker joined the cast of Fun Home at the Circle in the Square Theatre on Broadway, temporarily assuming the role of Helen Bechdel from April 5, 2016 to May 22, 2016.

Luker appeared Off-Broadway in The Vagina Monologues, Indian Summer, X (Life of Malcolm X), Brigadoon, Death Takes a Holiday, and Can't Let Go. During 2002, the Kennedy Center presented a "Sondheim Celebration"; Luker appeared in Passion as Clara. She performed in the New York City Center Encores! staged concerts of The Boys from Syracuse and Where's Charley?. Her TV appearances include Boardwalk Empire, The Good Wife, Matlock, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and the Hallmark movie Cupid & Cate. She appeared in the 2012 film Not Fade Away. On January 11, 2016, Luker reprised the role of Lily in The Secret Garden at a benefit performance at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.

Luker performs in concerts with symphony orchestras around the world; she is also a cabaret performer. Her solo cabaret act, Rebecca Luker Sings Jerome Kern, debuted at 54 Below in New York City (2012). She performed in the concert "Bridge to Broadway" (2012), "NEW VOICES at NYU: A Celebration of Songs by NYU Musical Theatre Writers Past and Present" (2012), a Rodgers and Hammerstein concert at the Kennedy Center (2011), and a solo concert at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theatre (2008). Luker won the Bistro Award for her cabaret act at Feinstein's at the Regency which was devoted to female songwriters (2006). She also performed a solo concert in the American Songbook series at Lincoln Center's Allen Room (2005). Luker, Truman Capote, and To Kill a Mockingbird were the 2001 Alabama Stage and Screen Hall of Fame inductees. She also received a doctorate of fine arts, honoris causa on May 5, 2010 from her alma mater, the University of Montevallo.

Personal life

She married Danny Burstein in June 2000 and has two stepsons, Zachary and Alexander.

In February 2020, Luker announced she had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in late 2019.

In April 2020, Luker's husband, Danny Burstein, contracted COVID-19 (along with several other cast members of Moulin Rouge!, in which he was starring).  He was subsequently hospitalized at St. Luke's in the Morningside Heights section of Manhattan and recovered.  Following his ordeal Burstein wrote an account of it that was published in The Hollywood Reporter. Toward the end of that article, Burstein revealed that as of April 13, 2020, "while I'm getting better, Rebecca has started dealing with the virus as well now. She's not been tested, but has all the symptoms to varying degrees. We are monitoring her closely."

Awards and nominations

  • 1991: Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical, The Secret Garden - Nominee
  • 1995: Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, Show Boat - Nominee
  • 1997: Drama-Logue Award, Harmony - Winner
  • 1998: Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical, The Sound of Music - Nominee
  • 2000: Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical, The Music Man - Nominee
  • 2000: Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical, The Music Man - Nominee
  • 2000: Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, The Music Man - Nominee
  • 2007: Bistro Award, Feinstein's at the Regency (Solo Cabaret) - Winner
  • 2007: Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical, Mary Poppins - Nominee
  • 2007: Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical, Mary Poppins - Nominee


    Solo recordings

  • I Got Love - Songs of Jerome Kern (2013, PS Classics)
  • Greenwich Time (2009, PS Classics)
  • Leaving Home (2004, PS Classics)
  • Anything Goes: Rebecca Luker Sings Cole Porter (1996, Varèse Sarabande)

    Cast recordings

  • Passion (2013 New York Cast Recording, PS Classics)
  • Jerome Kern: The Land Where the Good Songs Go - A New Revue (2012 Studio Cast Recording, 101 Distribution, PS Classics)
  • Sweet Little Devil (2012 Studio Cast Recording, PS Classics)
  • Death Takes a Holiday (2011 Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording, PS Classics)
  • Sweet Bye and Bye (2011 Studio Cast Recording, PS Classics)
  • Life Begins at 8:40 (2010 World Premiere Recording, PS Classics)
  • Kitty’s Kisses (2009 World Premiere Recording, PS Classics)
  • Dear Edwina (2008 World Premiere Recording, PS Classics)
  • Brownstone (2003 Studio Cast Recording, Original Cast Record)
  • Everybody’s Getting into the Act (2003 Studio Cast Recording, Varèse Sarabande)
  • The Music Man (2000 New Broadway Cast Recording, Q Records)
  • Wonderful Town (1998 Studio Cast Recording, JAY Records)
  • The Sound of Music (1998 New Broadway Cast Recording, RCA Victor)
  • The Boys from Syracuse (1997 Encores! Cast Recording, DRG Records)
  • Show Boat (1994 Revival Cast Album, Livent Music)
  • Brigadoon (1992 Studio Cast Album, EMI Records)
  • The Secret Garden (1991 Original Broadway Cast Album, Columbia Records)
  • Strike Up the Band (1991 Studio Cast Album, Elektra Nonesuch)
  • Annie Get Your Gun (1991 Studio Cast Album, EMI Records)
  • Kiss Me, Kate (1990 Studio Cast Album, EMI Records)
  • Show Boat (1988 Studio Cast Album, EMI Records)

    Featured recordings

  • Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project (2012, Over the Moon)
  • Victor Herbert: Collected Songs (2012, New World Records)
  • Show Some Beauty (2011, Yellow Sound Label)
  • Poetic License 100 Poems/100 Performers (2010, GPR Records)
  • Tom Herman: Music for Voice (2008, CDBY)
  • State of Grace III (2006, Koch Int’l Classics)
  • The Real Thing: Jamie deRoy and Friends, Volume 7 (2006, Harbinger Records)
  • Jule Styne in Hollywood (2006, PS Classics)
  • Philip Chaffin: Warm Spring Night (2005, PS Classics)
  • Jeepers Creepers: Great Songs from Horror Films (2003, Red Circle)
  • Aria 3: Metamorphosis (2003, Koch Records)
  • Believe: The Songs of The Sherman Brothers (2003, Varèse Sarabande)
  • Sweet Appreciation: Rusty Magee Live at the West Bank Café (2002, SixFootPlusMusic)
  • Peter Buchi: An American Voice (2002, Azica)
  • My Favorite Broadway: The Love Songs (2001, Hybrid Recordings)
  • Aria 2: New Horizon (1999, Astor Place Recordings)
  • A Little Bit in Love (1999 Compilation Album, JAY Records)
  • Simple Gifts: Carols from the Abbey (1998, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS)
  • Bernstein Dances (1998, Deutsche Grammophon)
  • A Special Place: Songs from the Heart (1998, Original Cast Records)
  • George & Ira Gershwin: Standards & Gems (1998 Compilation Album, Nonesuch Records)
  • The Best of the Broadway Divas (1997 Compilation Album, Varèse Sarabande)
  • The Best of In Celebration of Life 1-5 (Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS)
  • Aria (1997, Astor Place Recordings)
  • Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997, Walt Disney Records)
  • Unsung Musicals II (1995, Varèse Sarabande)
  • Lost in Boston III (1995, Varèse Sarabande)
  • Voices of Broadway: Songs of Conscience and Hope (1994, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS)
  • Musicals! (1993 Compilation Album, EMI Records)
  • Unsung Sondheim (1993, Varèse Sarabande)
  • Jerome Kern Treasury (1993, EMI Records)
  • Jerome Kern in London and Hollywood (1992, Rialto Records)
  • Broadway Showstoppers (1992, EMI Records)
  • Sing Before Breakfast (1991, Rialto Records)
  • Plácido Domingo: The Broadway I Love (1991, Warner Music)
  • Early Kern (1991, Rialto Recordings)
  • Keep Your Undershirt On (1990, Rialto Recordings)