Broadway Love Story: The Tale of Rebecca Luker & Danny Burstein
Whether you consider it a reason for being alive, a way to measure the year, or proof of an enchanted evening, love is everywhere on Broadway... including offstage.
In this first edition of Broadway Love Story, fall hard for FIDDLER ON THE ROOF's Danny Burstein and FUN HOME's Rebecca Luker, who explain their personal joys and trials of being a couple in the Broadway spotlight.
How did you first meet?
We actually met in 1996 doing a new musical called TIME AND AGAIN at the Old Globe in San Diego. Jack O'Brien directed. We became great pals along with Howard McGillin, Jessica Molaskey and George Dvorsky. We were all thick as thieves on that one. Sadly, the show never made it into New York, but thankfully, our friendship did last. After that we didn't see each other for about a year or so and were cast opposite one another in a workshop of Barry Manilow's musical, HARMONY. It was then that we started dating.
Our first date was going to see our pal, George Dvorsky in a musical revue at the 92nd Street Y. Dating was easy and relaxed because we'd been friends before and, truly, things have never changed. Our love and friendship has always been an easy, relaxed and wonderful thing. We just knew it was right.
Do you ever help each other out with audition material?
OMG, ALL THE TIME! We know each other's little quirks and great strengths. This is a family business and we both chip in any way we can to help the other out. We're very supportive and live through every experience together.
What's it like for you to see your significant other on stage?
Danny: I love it. I love when I forget Becca is my wife and get caught up in the story. Her performance in FUN HOME is simply magical and I was totally caught up in her plight as Helen. I was simply devastated at the end of it. That's what a great actor can do to you.
Rebecca: Well, of course I feel exactly the same about Danny. It's one of my favorite things to do EVER; watch him on stage or on the screen. He completely embodies whomever he's playing. He always surprises me, and he's so dedicated and works so hard. I couldn't be more proud of him.
Who gets more nervous for big roles? Is it more nerve wracking to watch as the spouse?
We're sort of even on this one. Both of us work hard on whatever we're doing, so by the time the show opens, we're ready. Nervous, in a good way. As Elaine Stritch told us, "I don't trust anyone who doesn't get nervous".
And we both think watching the other one perform is more nerve wracking. We have faith and confidence in the other, but sitting in the audience affords one so little control over the happenings onstage. So you're sitting there crossing your fingers extra hard that it all goes well.
What is like at home when you're both working?
Normal. We're both fairly low-key people in our home life. We're definitely busy and tired, but otherwise do the usual things that everyone else does. Pay the bills, check in on our sons, change the cat box... you know.
...when one of you is working?
Whoever isn't working tends to take care of the home front. We make sure dinner and shopping are done and give the other one time to rest for their show at night. We're a good team that way.
...when neither of you are working?
That's okay too. It gives us a chance to be together, which we love to do. Our downtime together is rare, so when it happens we try to take full advantage. We truly love just being together doing a lot of nothing. We both wish we could travel more.
Is there a hobby outside of theatre that you both enjoy together?
We have a little place in Pennsylvania on a lake. Nothing fancy, just a little getaway house. It's been one of the greatest things we've ever purchased. We hike, bike, kayak, swim, fish... you name it. It is the perfect respite from our crazy New York lives.
Do you have any advice for other theatre couples out there?
We would say that they must never forget that theater isn't the real world. It's what you love to do and are passionate about. But the most important thing in life is family & friends. The love you make. Make sure you have a "real life" outside of the business. It will feed your soul and actually make you a better artist, in the long run. But mostly, it'll make you happy. A stable home will do that for you. We still can't wait to get home to one another every night after work.
Luker's Broadway credits include: Fun Home, Cinderella, Mary Poppins, Nine, The Music Man, The Sound of Music, Showboat, The Secret Garden, The Phantom of the Opera. Off Broadway: Indian Blood, The Vagina Monologues, Can't Let Go, X (Life of Malcolm X), and Brigadoon. Concerts: The American Songbook Series, The Boys from Syracuse and Where's Charlie? (Encores!), No, No Nanette, Trouble in Tahiti, Gay Divorce(Carnegie Hall). Television: "Boardwalk Empire," "Cupid and Cate," "Law & Order: SVU," "The Good Wife." Film: The Rewrite and Not Fade Away. Recordings: I Got Love, Greenwich Time, Leaving Home, Anything Goes: Rebecca Luker Sings Cole Porter.
Danny just earned his sixth Tony Award nomination for his work in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. His other Broadway credits include: Cabaret (Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations); The Snow Geese; Golden Boy (2013 Tony and Outer Critics Circle nominations); Follies (2012 Tony, Astaire & Grammy Award nominations; Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards); Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown; South Pacific (Tony and Drama Desk nominations, Outer Critics Circle Award); The Drowsy Chaperone (Tony and Ovation Award nominations); Saint Joan; The Seagull; Three Men on a Horse; A Little Hotel on the Side; The Flowering Peach; A Class Act; Titanicand Company. Off-Broadway credits include:Talley's Folly (Lucille Lortel & Drama League nominations); Mrs. Farnsworth; Psych; All in the Timing; Merrily We Roll Along; Weird Romanceand I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change. Film/TV includes: The Family Fang (directed by Jason Bateman); Blackhat (directed by Michael Mann); Lolly Steinman on "Boardwalk Empire" (directed by Martin Scorsese); "Louie;"Transamerica; "Absolutely Fabulous;" "Ed;" all the "Law & Order" series; "Hope & Faith;" Deception;Affluenza; American Milkshake; Nor'easter; Construction; Liv and Trust, Greed, Bullets & Bourbon. He recently made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Frosch in the Jeremy Sams/Douglas Carter Beane production of Die Fledermaus.
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