BWW Review: ONE NIGHT WITH REBECCA LUKER Dazzles at HUMAN RACE THEATRE COMPANY
In the last week, I have been able to check off two of my theatre bucket list items. One was to see a professional production of CHESS, which I was able to see at the Kennedy Center in its limited run last week. The second, I checked off Saturday night at the Human Race Theatre Company at its fundraising event ONE NIGHT WITH Rebecca Luker, when I was actually able to hear Rebecca Luker sing in person.
Rebecca Luker is one of the great ladies of American musical theatre. Her resume includes three Tony nominations with performances on Broadway in FUN HOME, CINDERELLA, MARY POPPINS, NINE, THE MUSIC MAN, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, THE SECRET GARDEN AND PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. In addition, she has performed in numerous Off-Broadway, regional theatre and concert appearances.
While I was in college, THE SECRET GARDEN premiered on Broadway. As a young theatre student, I remember listening to the soundtrack over and over, especially the parts sung by Rebecca Luker. I was mesmerized by the ease and clarity of her beautiful soprano voice. I also remember one tortuous semester where my voice teacher tried to convince me that I was a soprano and assigned me to work on her finest number from the soundtrack, "How Could I Know". Alas, there was no ease and no clarity as it was discovered that I am definitely not a soprano. My admiration of Ms. Luker and her body of work has continued since that period of my life.
It was a great honor for me to be present on Saturday night at the Human Race for this magnificent concert featuring Ms. Luker along with her musical director and piano player, Joseph Thalken. I was just as awestruck as I was when I first heard her voice 25 years ago. Of course, my favorite number of the evening was a SECRET GARDEN medley of "Come to My Garden" and "How Could I Know". It moved me to tears. My other favorites performed through the evening were Jerome Kern's "The Folks Who Live on the Hill" and "Days and Days" from the musical FUN HOME. She seemed perfectly at ease in the intimate setting and her performance was filled with beauty, grace and humor. Her theme for the evenings songs was "Love" and the audience loved her.
Another highlight of the evening was the superb accompaniment provided by Joseph Thalken. Mr. Thalken is no stranger to the Human Race stage. As a composer, two of his shows, WAS, along with lyricist/librettist Barry Kleinbort, and HAROLD AND MAUDE, with lyricist/librettist Tom Jones, premiered there. Ms. Luker sang a few of his compositions with my favorite being the comedic "Billions of Beautiful Boys".
If you ever get the chance to see Rebecca Luker or Joseph Thalken in person, you should jump at the chance. The entire audience on Saturday was captivated by both of them. Thank you to the Human Race and the Musical Theatre Initiative at Wright State University for providing theatre-goers in Dayton with this wonderful opportunity.
If you would like to donate to the Human Race Theatre Company so they can continue to provide Dayton with such quality entertainment, please visit their website at www.humanracetheatre.org. You can also get information there about their next production, Neil Simon's BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS, running April 5-22, 2018.