Rebecca Luker: The Real Angel of Music. 1961-2020.

I was disappointed.
 
In 1988, I listened to the original cast recording of Phantom of the Opera over and over and over. And with each “repeat all” I fell more in love with the show, the characters and the voices of the actors I heard on that CD.
 
And then, after eight months of waiting, we got tickets to see the musical live on Broadway.
 
It would be my first Broadway musical. 
 
I didn’t know what to expect. But I remember saying, “I can’t wait to see those actors from the CD that I’ve been listening to!”
 
I had no idea how Broadway worked. I had no idea that the original cast had long since left by the time I pulled up to the Majestic Theater.
 
So when I opened my playbill and saw the woman playing Christine was someone name . . . Rebecca Luker . . . well, I was disappointed.
 
And then . . . she sang.
 
It was a voice unlike anything I had ever heard. And I wasn’t hearing it on a CD. Or on TV. It was live. Granted, that voice was a little far away, because I was in the 2nd to last row in the balcony . . . but I couldn’t take my plastic opera glasses off her. 
 
I read her bio over and over (God how I wish I had Google back then), wondering who she was . . . and knew I had to see her perform again.
 
I saved my Domino’s pizza delivery money for the next few months, earning enough for “scalper seats” to go back to see Phantom . . . praying this time NOT for the original cast . . . but that Ms. Luker would still be there.
 
She was.
 
Years later, I saw her in The Secret Garden . . . first in this appearance on The Tony Awards, and then, after saving up some more delivery dollars, live.
 
Then I started working in the business. My first job on Broadway was Hal Prince’s Show Boat.  Unfortunately, my stint in the show started just after she finished her term as Magnolia, so our interactions were few.  But I remember every one.
 
I saw her in everything. Fanboying from a far. Meeting her at a few events. And then finally, just a couple of years ago, when she was cast in a workshop I was involved in, I was able to gush. And I’ll tell you what I told her.
 
Rebecca Luker is one of the most glorious leading ladies Broadway has ever, ever, EVER had . . . and ever will have.
 
And we lost her, in this year that won’t quit, at the tender age of 59.
 
She took my gushing that day like she had never heard it before. Gave me a hug. We talked about our mutual friends and how it was surprising we hadn’t worked together before.
 
And I walked away from the encounter like I did after seeing her in Phantom in 1989.  Because she was as much of a star offstage as on.
 
To her family, especially her husband Danny, who is one of the most inspiring humans I’ve ever met: you’re all in my prayers.  Losing her is one of those things that make you look up at the sky and say, “Really?!?!  Why?”
 
If you don’t know who Rebecca Luker is . . . well . . . lucky you, we have Google today.
 
But I’ll post the video from The Secret Garden to get you started.  In this musical, she plays a woman . . . who her husband and the world lost too soon.
 

 

You an Actor? One quick question for ya.

 Danny Burstein did it.
 
The six-time Tony nominee appeared on my podcast a year ago and blew my mind.
 
Because actors are often the last ingredient added to a show’s developmental process, it’s easy for Writers, Producers, and all the other TheaterMakers involved from the get-go to forget how important they are in the TheaterMaking process.
 
Thankfully, Danny reminded me.
 
So for you Actors out there who have followed my blogs, podcasts and such, I’m sorry for not including more of you in what we do.
 
But I’m making a commitment today to help you figure out how you can achieve the success that you want in this biz.
 
And, surprise, surprise, I’ve already got some ideas on how you can do just that. 🙂 (And there are some bold-faced names who are going to help me help you along the way!)
 
But first, I need to ask you ONE QUICK QUESTION. By answering it, it’ll help me find out what is standing in your way . . . whatever your big obstacle is . . . so I can go out and find something to help you crush it.
 
So, if you’re an Actor who wants to act more, click here. It’ll take 30 seconds.
 
If you know an Actor who wants to act more, send them this blog, or this link.

Need some advice about the arts or anything? 50 Mentors in ONE book.

Confession time.
 
When I started my podcast over five years and two hundred (!) interviews ago, I told all the A-listers I interviewed that I was doing it for my listeners.
 
“They need your advice,” I said, “Your motivation, your mentorship. They want to hear your stories of success, so they can model their journey after yours.”
 
That was a fib.
 
In truth? I wanted to hear how these icons overcame obstacles, for me, as much as anyone else.
 
The good news?
 
I got away with the half-truth – because the interviews helped listeners AND me. Double-fecta.
 
And something interesting happened.
 
Over the years, I found myself listening to some of these podcasts again. Sometimes three times. I often used the most powerful quotes as #MyMorningWhiteBoardQuote on my Instagram.
 
And when faced with difficult decisions on my shows (and in my life), I often called up the wisdom of these A-listeners to help me make the right choice.
 
These hundreds of people became my mentors, whether they knew it or not.
 
And now, they are yours.
 
Here’s how . . .
 
Because I found elements of these conversations so valuable, I went back to Podcast Interview #1 ,and re-read every every single transcript.
 
Then I culled the BEST takeaways, action items, quotes and inspirational insights from 50 of those interviews and put them into a book entitled . . . Cast of Mentors. (Yes, an homage to a similar volume by Tim Ferris that I found so helpful in my entrepreneurial endeavors as well as the “Directors on Directing” and “Producers on Producing” books I loved when I was coming up.)
 
Inside the book, you’ll find a couple of pages per mentor, with key questions and answers about how to make better theater – that you can read in 5 minutes. Yep, I designed the book for you to read in bites. Got five minutes before a Zoom meeting starts? Read tips on directing from Kenny Leon. Or songwriting from Bobby Lopez. Or producing from Daryl Roth. Or life from Ali Stroker. Or . . . on and on and on. Because there are 50 of ’em in this volume alone. (See the full list of mentors below).
 
Want to see what the inside of the book looks like? Click here to read advice from multiple Tony Award winning Directors and Choreographers. (And when you are done – feel how you want to turn the page and read another one!)
 
The book, Cast of Mentors: Short Sage Advice From 50 Broadway Superpowers is available for pre-order NOW Click here to be first in line to get it (release date is November 19th – in time to grab as a holiday gift for the TheaterMaker in your life.)
 
Oh, and we made it a fancy hardcover. Because the advice in the book is worth it. I know you’ll find yourself consulting it over and over.
 
Grab Cast Of Mentors here.
 
And a huge thanks to the following 50 mentors for being a part of Volume I. (Yep – there will be a second one!)
Rick Miramontez
Charlotte St. Martin
Nina Lannan
Terrence McNally
Jordan Roth
Tim Rice
Ben Brantley
Michael Arden
Casey Nicholaw
David Henry Hwang
Ted Chapin
Susan Stroman
Daryl Roth
Joe Mantello
Stephen Schwartz
Lynn Ahrens
Diane Paulus
Jeanine Tesori
Benj Pasek & Justin Paul
Robert Lopez
Leigh Silverman
Stephen Byrd
Bartlett Sher
Sue Frost & Randy Adams
Tara Rubin
Rick Elice
Lynne Meadow
David Stone
Kenny Leon
Stacey Mindich
Kathleen Marshall
Eva Price
Kwame Kwei-Armah
Pam MacKinnon
Sergio Trujillo
Lisa Kron
Rebecca Taichman
John Weidman
Joe Iconis
Michael Greif
Kirsten Childs
Dominique Morisseau
Ali Stroker
Mara Isaacs
Alan Cumming
Asmeret Ghebremichael
Jamil Jude
Mandy Gonzalez
Robyn Goodman
Paul Tazewell
Get the advice on how you can achieve your theatrical aspirations from all these mentors here.

Tonight on the Livestream: #Fearless Broadway Star, Mandy Gonzalez

Last week, we debuted what we’re now calling the official start of our 2nd season of The Producer’s Perspective LIVE! (Who would have thought we would have had two weeks of these live streams, never mind two seasons!)

We kicked off our new weekly format with Broadway veteran Asmeret Ghebremichael, who has been one of the leading voices of change in our industry over the last few weeks. If you haven’t caught the episode yet, you can do so here

And tonight, we have another #FEARLESS theatermaker joining me live!

I’ve had Mandy Gonzalez on my “must interview” list for a looooong time. You may have seen Mandy’s jaw-dropping performances in Hamilton, In The Heights, or Wicked. And we’ll talk about her rise to the top of the business and just how she did it, as well as how she stays positive with everything going on in our business, while she battles breast cancer.   

I’m excited to sit down (virtually) with Mandy tonight at 8pm EDT. To watch the episode, hit the get reminder button here.

And during this episode, we’ll be raising money for Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Check out their website to learn more about the work they’re doing. 

 

And look who’s joining me over the next few weeks . . .

Tuesday, June 30th – Paul Tazewell (Costume Designer – MJ The Musical, Ain’t Too Proud, Hamilton)

Tuesday, July 7th – TBD

Tuesday, July 14th – Tara Rubin (Casting Director – SIX, Sing Street, Ain’t Too Proud, Dear Evan Hansen)

Tuesday, July 21st – Brian Stokes Mitchell (The Actors Fund Chairman, Actor – Shuffle Along, Women on the Verge of Nervous Breakdown, Ragtime)

Tuesday, July 28th – Danny Burstein (Actor – Moulin Rouge, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof)

Tuesday, August 4th – TBD

Tuesday, August 11th – John Cariani (Actor/Playwright – Something Rotten; Almost Maine; Caroline, or Change)

 

You can catch me every TUESDAY at 8pm EDT (7pm CDT/ 6pm MDT/ 5pm PDT) on my Facebook, on my Twitter, on Broadway Podcast Network’s Youtube Channel, and on Broadway on Demand.

To learn more about our guests and the organizations for which we are raising money, visit www.TheProducersPerspective.com/LIVE.

Tonight on the Livestream: Broadway Veteran and Change Agent, Asmeret Ghebremichael

We are back, people!

Tonight, we kick off the new weekly format of The Producer’s Perspective LIVE! with my friend and uber-talented theatermaker, Asmeret Ghebremichael. For the last 20 years, Asmeret has been performing in shows on Broadway like Legally Blonde, Wicked, Elf, SpamalotThe Book of Mormon (on Broadway and in The West End), and more. (I first became aware of her super skills in the late-night improv hit, Don’t Quit Your Night Job.)

I’ve even been lucky enough to have her in a few readings of mine over the years.  And I’ve always known she has a fantastic voice.

But in the last few weeks, she has used that voice to sing out some of the most authentic, emotional, and important thoughts about the issues facing Black people and Black performers.

Click here to watch her Instagram Live interview with Josh Gad, and click here to read her opinion piece for Broadway News titled, Opinion: I’m tired of being the token Black friend.”

Tonight at 8pm EDT, she and I will talk about how she got to Broadway, what it was like when she got here, and what she sees for the future.

And this week, all proceeds will benefit the Broadway Advocacy Coalition.

So click here to join us TONIGHT at 8pm EDT!

And look who is joining us over the next few weeks! (Stay tuned for the Altar Boyz reunion, which will get sandwiched in between the super gets below soon!)

Tuesday, June 23rd – Mandy Gonzalez (Actor – Hamilton, In The Heights)

Tuesday, June 30th – TBD

Tuesday, July 7th – TBD

Tuesday, July 14th – Tara Rubin (Casting Director – SIX, Sing Street, Ain’t Too Proud, Dear Evan Hansen)

Tuesday, July 21st – Brian Stokes Mitchell (The Actors Fund Chairman, Actor – Shuffle Along, Women on the Verge of Nervous Breakdown, Ragtime)

Tuesday, July 28th – Danny Burstein (Actor – Moulin Rouge, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof)

 

You can catch me and a Broadway superstar every TUESDAY at 8pm EDT (7pm CDT/ 6pm MDT/ 5pm PDT) on my Facebook, on my Twitter, on Broadway Podcast Network’s Youtube Channel, and on Broadway on Demand.

To learn more, visit www.TheProducersPerspective.com/LIVE.

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