(Anita Gates’s article appeared in The New York Times, 12/23; Photo: Rebecca Luker as Maria, surrounded by the von Trapp children, in the 1998 Broadway revival of “The Sound of Music.” She also starred in hit revivals of “Show Boat” and “The Music Man.”Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times; via Pam Green.)
Her Broadway career, fueled by her crystal-clear operatic soprano, brought her Tony Award nominations for “Show Boat,” “The Music Man” and “Mary Poppins.”
Rebecca Luker, the actress and singer who in a lauded three-decade career on the New York stage embodied the essence of the Broadway musical ingénue in hit revivals of “Show Boat,” “The Sound of Music” and “The Music Man,” died on Wednesday in a hospital in Manhattan. She was 59.
The death was confirmed by Sarah Fargo, her agent. Ms. Luker announced in February that she had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as A.L.S. or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Ms. Luker’s Broadway career, fueled by her crystal-clear operatic soprano, brought her three Tony Award nominations. The first was for “Show Boat” (1994), in which she played Magnolia, the captain’s dewy-fresh teenage daughter, whose life is ruined by marriage to a riverboat gambler. The second was for “The Music Man” (2000), in which she was Marian, the prim River City librarian who enchants a traveling flimflam man who thinks — mistakenly — that he’s just passing through town.
In between, Ms. Luker delighted critics by playing against type in a 1997 Encores! production of “The Boys From Syracuse.” As Adriana, the neglected wife who gets her groove back (with her husband’s long-lost twin brother), she wore slinky 1930s gowns and exuded what Ben Brantley, in his review for The New York Times, called “a disarmingly confectionary sexiness.”