Family & Companions
Even though Rebecca Luker is a two-time Tony nominee, she still insists her proudest achievement to date was becoming a rifle sergeant in the Thompson High Marching Band when she was a teenager. The Alabama native, who has carved out a successful career playing fresh-faced ingenues in traditional period musicals, is best-known for the bell-like soprano she brought to her roles in "The Phantom of the Opera" (1989), "Show Boat" (1994), "The Sound of Music" (1998) and "The Music Man" (2000).
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Luker sang in the church choir when she was a child, later trying out for a high school production of "Go, Ask Alice," only to be told by her drama teacher that she wouldn't be convincing as a drugged-out teen because of her long blonde hair and apple-pie looks. After graduation, she attended the University of Montevallo as a music major and performed in numerous college stage productions. She took a year off to work with the Michigan Opera Company, but returned and earned a Bachelor's of Music degree before heading to NYC to pursue her theatrical career. While she was hoping for her big break in the Big Apple, Luker worked as a waitress at Windows on the World. Her life changed radically two years after she arrived in the city, though, when she was cast in the ensemble of Andrew Lloyd Webber's monstrously popular "The Phantom of the Opera." Eventually she understudied the part of Christine and assumed the leading soprano role when Patti Cohenour left in 1989. (Ironically, Cohenour played Mother Abbess to Luker's Maria in the 1998 revival of "The Sound of Music.")
Luker followed her success in "Phantom" by playing Lily, the beautiful ghost who haunts "The Secret Garden" (1991) opposite Mandy Patinkin. Although the show got mixed reviews from the critics, audiences and reviewers raved about her performance. From there, she played Magnolia in Harold Prince's revival of "Show Boat" (1994), a critically acclaimed performance that earned her a Tony nomination. In 1995, the actress went to California to co-star in the highly anticipated musicalization of "Time and Again," Jack Finney's cult novel of romance and time travel. Although she and co-star Howard McGillan earned raves, there were numerous problems with the book and the show's Broadway engagement was cancelled. Two years later, Luker again headed west, this time for a workshop of Barry Manilow's opus "Harmony." where she played the romantic lead opposite Danny Burstein, the man who would become her live-in boyfriend in 1998.
Luker took on another wholesome, immensely appealing role in 2000, when she starred in the revival of "The Music Man" and earned her second Tony nomination. That same year, she made her TV-movie debut in CBS' "Cupid and Cate" opposite Mary Louise-Parker and Peter Gallagher. She received good notices for her first major TV appearance, which had her playing one of four sisters struggling with issues regarding family and love.
Cast (Feature Film)
Was runner-up to Alabama's Junior Miss
Cast in the ensemble of "The Phantom of the Opera", staged by Harold Prince
TV acting debut in a two-part episode of "Matlock" (NBC)
Assumed role of Christine in "The Phantom of the Opera", replacing Patti Cohenouer
Starred as Lily, the ghost who haunts Mandy Patinkin's Archibald Craven in "The Secret Garden", directed by Susan H Schulman
Nominated for a Tony as Actress in a Musical as Magnolia in revival of "Show Boat", directed by Harold S Prince
Appeared opposite Howard McGillan in the Old Globe Theatre staging of the musical "Time and Again"; future companion Danny Burstein was in cast
Workshopped Barry Manilow's musical "Harmony" at the La Jolla Playhouse; played opposite Danny Burstein
Earned raves for turn as Adriana in the City Center Encores! staging of "The Boys From Syracuse", directed by Schulman
Starred as Maria in revival of "The Sound of Music", directed by Schulman
TV-movie debut in the "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation "Cupid & Cate" (CBS)
Earned Tony nomination for portrayal of Marian Paroo, the librarian, in the Susan Stroman-staged revival of "The Music Man"
Starred in the stage musical "Passion" performed at the Kennedy Center
Portrayed Claudia in the play "Nine"
Cast as Mrs. Banks in the Broadway musical, "Mary Poppins"; earned a Tony award nomination