National Post (National Edition)
Actor nominated for three Tonys
Rebecca Luker, the Broadway actor who earned Tony nominations for Mary Poppins, The Music Man and Show Boat, died Dec. 23 in a Manhattan hospital, her agent told The New York Times. She was 59.
The Times characterized her voice as a “crystal-clear operatic soprano” and her performance in one role as exhibiting “a disarmingly confectionary sexiness.”
She had been diagnosed with ALS late last year. Earlier this year, her husband wrote in The Hollywood Reporter that he had recovered from a serious bout of COVID-19 and that Luker exhibited some symptoms but had not been tested.
Luker graced both the stage and the screen, though she was most recognized for her memorable Broadway roles.
She began her three-decade Broadway career as an understudy for the role of Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera from 1988 to 1991. Throughout the 1990s, she played parts in The Secret Garden, Show Boat and The Sound of Music.
Luker earned her first of three Tony nominations in 1995 for portraying Magnolia in Show Boat. Her later works in The Music Man (2000) and Mary Poppins (2007) would lead to second and third nominations.
As the 2000s wore on, Luker continued to perform on Broadway, but began to take on film and television roles as well. Starting with her gig in the 2000 TV movie Cupid & Cate, the actor went on to appear in Boardwalk Empire, The Good Wife, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and NCIS: New Orleans. She played Michele Downey in Bull this year in her final acting role.
Luker was born April 17, 1961 in Birmingham, Ala. She received an honorary doctorate of fine arts in 2010 from her alma mater, Alabama's University of Montevallo.
The star had her last stage performance in Kennedy Center's 2019 production of Footloose, in which she played a small-town minister's narrow-minded wife. By this time she had also appeared in three feature films, including 2014's The Rewrite.
In June, Luker hosted a virtual benefit for ALS called At Home With Rebecca Luker. She sang during the pre-recorded concert, raising funds and awareness for the disease.
Having made a very successful career of musical theatre, she once told Playbill that “I am so not a musical theatre person. I love rock music and jazz. I love the '70s stuff I grew up with.”