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.
 

 

And The 2020 Nominees for the Streaming Theater Awards Are . . .

The Tony Award nominations were last week . . . so don’t you think it’s time for The Streaming Theater Awards?

It is!

Except they don’t exist.  Yet.

Streaming Theater is a thing.  It’s not a fad.  It’s not a phase.  And it’s not a lesser art form.

It’s a thing.

It’s a new form of entertainment that is going to stick around post-pandemic (and let that be soon).

And there has been so much of it already, that these productions deserve their own recognition and their own awards (Which will, of course, market the form, and make it an even bigger thing.  Awards do that – so seek them out for your niche – or create them yourself!)

So if you got excited about the subject of this blog, and opened it hoping to see your name in the list of the first annual Streaming Theater Award Nominations . . . then maybe you’re the one to start ’em.

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Want to get into a serious conversation about streaming theater?  Hear from the experts here.

P.S.  The TheaterMakers Summit with Christopher Jackson, Thomas Schumacher, Sonya Tayeh, Stephen C. Byrd, Ben Brantley and so many more is in just 24 days!  Get your ticket here. 

 

Why The Grease Sing-along Instead Of The Tony Awards.

Over the past few weeks, there has been a lot of chatter about what CBS might air on Tony Sunday instead of the actual, aborted, Tonys.

I heard about Best Ofs, Tributes, and a whole host of other ideas (including some with some pretty big celebrity hosts).

And at the end of the play, CBS chose Grease.

Ok, ok, I’m not giving them full credit.

They chose a Grease sing-along.

A wop baba loo bop a wop BS.

This was a hard one for us Broadway avids to take.   The Tonys is our Super Bowl, our Masters, our Christmas, and Hannukah rolled into one for some!

And now that night will consist of four chords and three jokes.

Now listen – I actually love me some Grease.  Those four chords and three jokes are some of the most brilliant around when you calculate how many people this show/movie/classic has kept smiling over the past 50+ years (not to mention how much money it has made).

So, I apologize for knocking it.  It’s just I love the Tonys that much.

What happened to all those other ideas?  The Best Ofs and so on?

What happened is what usually happened . . . someone added up the cost of a revised “Tonys” (as well as the time and logistics involved in making it) and compared it to the cost of showing Grease.  Guess what won?

See, it’s not so easy to just pull old Tony Awards footage out of a vault and show it . . . like you can pull an old movie out of a vault and show it.  The Tony Awards telecasts weren’t set up for replays.  And it’s just too expensive to do it.  So our sister-in-show-biz, the movie industry, has a leg up on us here.

But hopefully, this will teach us that we need a mechanism in place for situations like this (as I wrote about here), and our lack of flexibility with what we can do with our content is causing us to lose the battle.

We’ll win the war.  Because nothing replaces live.

And in the meantime, on Sunday, June 7th, I’ll just watch Netflix instead.

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If you want something to stream, check out Daddy Long Legs on BroadwayHD.  You can get it for free for 30 days now with the code DLLBHD.

 

 

Broadway Grosses w/e 7/7/2019: Closing Time

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending July 7, 2019. The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League.

Broadway Grosses w/e 6/30/2019: Moulin Rouge! Dazzles

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending June 30, 2019. The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League.

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