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Stars Mourn a Voice That Would 'Wrap You in Peace'

Rebecca Luker appeared in Broadway hits for decades
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 24, 2020 3:20 PM CST

(Newser) – Rebecca Luker, a soprano and three-time Tony-nominated actor who starred in some of the biggest Broadway hits of the past three decades, died Wednesday. She was 59, the AP reports. Her death was announced by her husband, veteran Broadway actor Danny Burstein, who said in a statement: "Our family is devastated. I have no words at this moment because I'm numb." Luker went public this year in saying she had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, also called ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Luker was a best actress Tony nominee in 1995 playing Magnolia in Showboat, a best actress nominee in 2000 for playing Marian in The Music Man opposite Craig Bierko, and a best featured actress nominee in 2007 as Winifred Banks in Mary Poppins.

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Tributes flooded social media, including from Broadway stars like Laura Benanti, who called Luker "humble, loving and kind" with a voice" that would "wrap you in peace." Seth Rudetsky said it was "a great loss for Broadway and the world." Kristin Chenoweth tweeted that Luker was "one of the main reasons I wanted to be a soprano," and Bernadette Peters called her "one of the most beautiful voices on Broadway and a lovely person." Luker made her Broadway debut in 1988 in The Phantom of the Opera first as an understudy to Sarah Brightman and then playing Christine opposite the legendary Michael Crawford. "It was an out-of-body experience," she said in 2016. LaChanze took to Twitter to call Luker's death "a huge loss for the American theater.” Tony-winner Michael Cerveris said, "There was no one more humble, more unexpectedly funny or more glorious when she sang."

(Read more obituary stories.)

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