Luker is scheduled to offer a solo concert on Sept. 21 at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center's Concert Hall in Birmingham, AL. The soprano is a native of nearby Helena, AL. Backed by the famed Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Luker will offer an evening of Broadway favorites and American standards.
The singer-actress was last on Broadway in the hit revival of Meredith Willson's The Music Man, earning a Tony nomination for her work as Marian the Librarian. She has also appeared on Broadway in Show Boat (Tony nomination), The Sound of Music and The Phantom of the Opera, and she will be part of the Oct. 21 Stephen Sondheim concert at Avery Fisher Hall.
In 2000, during her run in The Music Man, Luker spoke to Playbill On-Line about growing up in Helena, which sounds like a tiny hamlet.
"It's a small, small town about 30 miles south of Birmingham," she said. "I lived four years in the west end section of Birmingham and then we moved. My dad started this suburb development, we were the first house. We had a lake built. No trees. It was a big mud pit. My dad helped develop it. It's beautiful now, there's a lake and a beautiful wooded area. My mom's still there. My dad died in '84." Is there a downtown Helena?
"There's a town composed of, like, six traffic lights," she said. "It really hasn't changed much. Mostly, we went to Birmingham if we wanted to see a movie. It was sort of 'the country,' a lot of woods behind our house, farm animals...
She said she was exposed to "very little" theatre in Alabama.
"I may have seen a children's production of something in grammar school," she said. "Mostly, no theatre, other than the music in church and school. I was in every choir you could get into. The last part of high school, I started studying voice. I did a recital at University of Montevallo, where I eventually went to [college]. I started doing musical theatre in college. I didn't really know that I was going to be a performer. You don't think that way when you're down in Alabama. There's really no outlet for it. You don't think you'll actually make a living at that when you're in Alabama because there's not a way to there. I thought about musical therapy, but I didn't want to teach. When I started doing the musicals for fun, I had a lot of encouragement from a lot of people."
The concert begins at 8 PM, and tickets are available by calling (205) 251-7727 or by visiting the Symphony box office at 3621 Sixth Avenue South. For more information, go to http://www.alabamasymphony.org.
—By Andrew Gans
and Kenneth Jones