NEW YORK — March 5, 2021 — Today, Target ALS, a nonprofit organization founded by former NYC Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff — who lost his father and uncle to ALS — announced a one-night only streaming concert honoring the life of famed Broadway star Rebecca Luker. Diagnosed with ALS in late 2019, Luker passed away in December 2020, leaving behind her husband, fellow Broadway star Danny Burstein, and countless family members, friends and fans. Affectionately titled “Becca,” the show will feature stories and songs from Luker’s career, performed by Broadway’s best-known talent, and will raise much-needed funds for ALS research.
The lineup of stars featured in “Becca” includes Laura Benanti (Tony winner, “Gypsy”), Sierra Boggess (“The Little Mermaid,” “The Phantom of the Opera”), Michael Cerveris (Tony winner, “Fun Home”), Victoria Clark (Tony winner, “The Light in the Piazza”), Santino Fontana (Tony winner, “Tootsie”), Judy Kuhn (Tony nominee, “Fun Home”), Howard McGillin (Tony nominee, longest-running “The Phantom of the Opera”), Norm Lewis (Tony nominee, “Porgy and Bess”), Kelli O’Hara (Tony winner, “The King and I”) and Sally Wilfert (“The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” “All the Girls”).
Lucy Simon is serving as an honorary producer, assisting with the lineup of performers and selection of several songs. Simon wrote the music for Luker’s first original role on Broadway, Lily in “The Secret Garden.” Frank DiLella (Emmy winner, NY1’s “On Stage”) will host the show, which is written by Sarah Rebell and Steve Schonberg. Mary-Mitchell Campbell and Joseph Thalken will serve as co-music directors, with David Mahoney acting as creative producer.
“Becca” will stream online on Tuesday, May 4, 2021, at 7:30 p.m. (Eastern/Pacific and UK). Tickets are $20 with 100% of ticket sales and donations benefiting ALS research. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit www.CelebrateBecca.com.
“This show is about celebrating who Rebecca was both onstage and off and reminding us that each life is precious,” said Steve Schonberg, a frequent theater contributor on WNBC’s “Weekend Today in NY” and who also oversees public relations for Target ALS. “ALS not only affects patients, but their family, friends and colleagues, too. This concert serves multiple purposes; providing a sense of healing to those who loved Rebecca, telling the story of another beautiful life cut short and raising funds that can help us realize a world where no one dies of ALS.”
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) remains an uncurable and tragic disease for patients, their families and everyone whose lives they touch. It is an irreversible degeneration of motor neurons, which are the nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain that move the muscles needed for breathing, walking and swallowing, among other daily activities. On average, patients survive three to five years after diagnosis, and during their illness they become progressively paralyzed, losing speech and independence.
Target ALS, which has helped accelerate five drugs into clinical trials since 2013, plays a unique role in the battle against ALS. The organization’s approach is to break down barriers and silos that have historically inhibited research results. This is achieved through Target ALS’ Innovation Ecosystem, which facilitates unparalleled collaboration between researchers from academia and the pharma/biotech industry.
In November 2020, Target ALS announced the first-ever comprehensive research Initiative to discover urgently needed ALS biomarkers, the Target ALS Diagnosis Initiative — through which the organization will invest $15 million in collaborative grantmaking and the development of new scientific resources. The initiative was developed in response to input from over 100 scientists, patients, caregivers, and other thought leaders. They universally identified ALS biomarkers as a critical unmet need to diagnose the disease early, track its progression and provide reliable measures for new treatments.
“I want to thank all of the incredible performers who will help bring this beautiful tribute to life by celebrating their beloved friend Rebecca. She was one of many — too many — affected by the disease and it surely ripples still as her friends and family cope with such a tremendous loss,” said Target ALS chief executive officer, Manish Raisinghani, MBBS, Ph.D. “The ALS research community has made great strides, many fueled by Target ALS, but we’re not there yet. It’s efforts like this concert that remind us how powerful the community is and how we can help scientists achieve transformative breakthroughs.”
Throughout most of the 150-year period since ALS was first described, no validated treatments were developed for the disease largely because of limited knowledge of the nervous system and the disease itself. Since the early 2000s, however, researchers have made remarkable strides toward a better understanding of the disease, including the discovery of several genetic mutations that lead to ALS.
Please be advised that the lineup of talent participating in “Becca” may be subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances.
ABOUT TARGET ALS
Target ALS is a 501(c)(3) medical research foundation committed to the search for effective treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. We envision a world in which no one dies of ALS, and we play a unique role in the battle against this disease. Founded in 2013 by former New York City deputy mayor Dan Doctoroff — who lost both his father and uncle to ALS — our approach is breaking down barriers and silos that have historically inhibited research results. We do this through our Target ALS Innovation Ecosystem, which facilitates unparalleled collaboration between researchers from academia and the pharma/biotech industry. The Target ALS Innovation Ecosystem has revolutionized the field in just seven years through collaborations that have resulted in the first potential treatments since ALS was identified in 1869.