Rebecca Luker in a publicity shot for Can’t Let Go
Rebecca Luker in a publicity shot for Can’t Let Go
Within musical theater leading lady Rebecca Luker there's a fun-loving comic actress screaming to get out. Actually, anyone who caught her delightful performance in the Encores! series production of Rodgers and Hart's The Boys From Syracuse knows that Luker has comedic chops that weren't necessarily put to use on Broadway in such roles as Magnolia in Show Boat, Maria in The Sound of Music, and Marian Paroo in The Music Man.

Now, Luker has another chance to let her hair down in the Keen Company's world premiere staging of Can't Let Go, a fanciful comedy by Keith Reddin. Directed by the company's artistic director, Carl Forsman, the show opens at the Connelly Theatre this weekend. I recently spoke with the lovely Ms. Luker about her latest project.

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THEATERMANIA: Keith Reddin has written some wonderful plays. Tell me about Can't Let Go.

REBECCA LUKER: It's brand new. It's never been done before -- not even in a reading. It's a comedy and it's very unusual, so I'm wary of describing it too much. It's a five-character play, set on the East Coast in the present day, and it takes place in an office. It's very funny and it moves quickly, with no intermission. The play is about one wacky day in the life of this woman named Beth Williams, what she experiences with her boss and her colleagues and her boyfriend.

TM: You said "East Coast." Does that mean not necessarily New York?

RL: It's not New York. We think it's somewhere like Hartford, Connecticut, in a boring old office somewhere. As the play opens, my character is having a conversation with a co-worker. She becomes involved with three of her colleagues before it's all over, but the way that happens is wacky. I really shouldn't say any more 'cause I'll give away the whole plot. It's a farcical, out-of-the-ordinary kind of story, so it's hard to describe. What happens to my character probably wouldn't happen to someone in real life. Well, I suppose it could -- but it's not likely. That's what makes it fun.

TM: Tell me about the cast.

RL: Cheyenne Casebier is probably the youngest member of the company, but she's been around and she's done a lot of work in New York. And Brian Hutchison has been in some plays -- The Invention of Love and things like that. I'm not as familiar with Glenn Fleshler and Greg Stuhr, but they're both wonderful in the show. And it's great to work with Carl Forsman.

TM: When was the last time you did a non-musical play?

RL: Well, I did three weeks of The Vagina Monologues at the end of last year. I was in the final cast before Eve Ensler came back and closed it. Before that, I can't even remember the last time I did a straight play. I've been doing a lot of concert stuff -- thank God for that -- with different symphonies all over the country. Then I went out to do She Loves Me for Reprise! in L.A. in March. I did that for a whole month and I missed New York terribly. To me, there's no comparison to me between the two cities.

TM: You did The Music Man on Broadway with three different male leads, didn't you?

Luker in The Music Man
Luker in The Music Man
RL: Yes, I did the whole run. I went through Craig Bierko, Eric McCormack, and Robert Sean Leonard! It was fun to do it with different Harolds. You can get very complacent in a long run, and it's nice to have it broken up with different people so you get to have sort of a new take on the show. It spices things up.

TM: I hear that you've got a solo album in the works. What label will it be on?

RL: Don't know yet. I'm hoping it'll be P.S. Classics. The album is called Leaving Home and I'm doing it with my buddy Chris McGovern, who produced it and wrote some of the songs for it. So I've been working a lot on that -- and I have two stepchildren and a husband, Danny Burstein. A lot of my time is spent just doing laundry, cooking, and so on. It's important to me now to have that balance in my life. I'm a homebody, really.

TM: What's the repertoire of the album?

RL: It's kind of a funny mixture of stuff. I can do the leading lady soprano thing, but I love singing rock and folk and jazz and all that, too. And I'm learning to belt in my older years; I just never trusted that part of my voice before, but now I'm using it more often. Belting is fun! I mean, I don't belt like Betty Buckley or Debbie Gravitte, but I do have a sort of a belt/soprano mix.

TM: Revivals have been your bread and butter, but I recall that you did Time and Again at the Old Globe in San Diego. I saw the show when it was eventually done at Manhattan Theatre Club, but it was a different production and you weren't in it.

RL: It was a sad thing that our production didn't come in. It was a combination of things -- bad timing, and I think maybe the creative team weren't all on the same page. The producers who came to see us didn't think we would have time to make it all right, so it just didn't happen on Broadway. But that's one of the most beautiful scores I've ever heard. Gorgeous stuff.

TM: Are there any new musicals on your plate that you can talk about?

RL: No, but I'm involved in this concert series called New Voices at the Thalia. It's great to do things like that, to help new composers by singing their stuff. It's a wonderful series. Actually, my husband is going to be the M.C. again. The next one will be the summer concert on July 21, and then there's a big one set for September 29.

TM: Well, thanks for talking, Rebecca. By the way, do your friends call you Becky?

RL: No. Becca, or Bec, or Rebecca. Anything but Becky. The only person who calls me that is Karen Ziemba, and she just does it to annoy me!