Luker's casting, and the show, have now been officially announced, with the dates and venue given. As first reported in Theatrical Index, previews for The Sound Of Music start Feb. 6, 1998, with an opening set for March 12, 1998 at the Martin Beck Theatre, 302 West 45th St. (Annie is currently at the Martin Beck until Oct. 19.) Jan Maxwell of A Doll's House will also be in the cast.
In an August story headlined "Broadway To Hear the Sound of Luker," Luker told reporter Alec Harvey of the Birmingham News in Alabama that she will be playing the role on Broadway. "I'll try to make it my own," she is quoted saying of the role, "but you know, you'll always think of Julie Andrews singing those songs."
Luker, a Birmingham native, was a Best Actress Tony nominee for her Magnolia in Show Boat. She also had a featured role in the Old Globe Theatre's Time And Again in 1996. In 1989, Luker played Christine in Broadway's Phantom Of The Opera.
Luker also mentioned that the Mother Superior would be played by Patti Cohenour, who played the Phantom's Christine in 1988 -- a year before Luker stepped into the role. Susan H. Schulman will direct The Sound Of Music, which is produced by the Baruch-Frankel-Viertel Group (making it a possible candidate to fall under the new producing partnership between PACE Theatrical Group and Jujamcyn).
Sets will be designed by Heidi Ettinger (Moon Over Buffalo, Smokey Joe's Cafe). Lighting is by Paul Gallo; sound by Tony Meola. Michael Lichtefeld will serve as choreographer, with Michael Rafter providing musical direction and Bruce Coughlin creating the orchestrations.
Howard Lindsay & Russell Crouse wrote the libretto for 1959's Sound Of Music, based on the story of the "Trapp Family Singers" as documented by Maria Augusta Trapp. The autobiographical story told how the Trapps escaped from Austria during World War II.
The original production starred Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel. The film starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. Broadway last heard "Do Re Mi," "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" and "So Long, Farewell" in 1991 when Debby Boone, Laurence Guittard and Werner Klemperer starred in a revival at City Opera's New York State Theatre.
Director Schulman made her Tony-nominated Broadway debut with Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's Sweeney Todd at Circle in the Square. She also directed the Tony-winning The Secret Garden, its two-and a-half year national tour, as well as its Australian premiere. Other credits include the York Theatre's Off-Broadway revivals of Merrily We Roll Along and Company, along with the recent Violet and the "Encores!" staged reading of The Boys From Syracuse. She was resident director for Pittsburgh's Civic Light Opera for several seasons (Follies, West Side Story, 1776, Funny Girl) Schulman graduated from the NY High School of Performing Arts, Hofstra University and the Yale School of Drama. She is executive vice president of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.
A source close to the production said the idea for a revival of Sound Of Music came about when Melissa Errico wowed the crowd in an Encores! staging of One Touch Of Venus. "She could basically write her own ticket at that point," the source said, "so when she said Maria was a role she really wanted to play, things fell into place. Now she's doing High Society, so she's out of the project, but the producers fell in love with the musical all over again and decided to do it anyway."
Luker's name had long been mentioned for the lead role for the production, which is not connected to a recent American tour of Sound Of Music in South East Asia, which starred Marie Osmond.