Luke Yankee has directed, produced, taught, lectured and acted throughout the country and abroad. He has run two regional theatres, serving as Producing Artistic Director of the Long Beach Civic Light Opera (one of the largest musical theatres in America) and the Struthers Library theatre, a historic landmark in northwestern Pennsylvania.
Off Broadway, he directed the political comedy, "High Infidelity" with John Davidson and Morgan Fairchild at the Promenade Theatre and Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" at the York Theatre with Penny Fuller and Cynthia Nixon. On Broadway, he has worked as an assistant director on the musical "Grind" starring Ben Vereen (as assistant to Harold Prince), "The Circle" with Rex Harrision and Glynis Johns, "Light Up the Sky" with Peter Falk and New York City Opera's "Brigadoon" with Tony Roberts.
His regional theatre directing credits include: "Driving Miss Daisy" with Eileen Heckart, "Nite Club Confidential" with Barbara Eden, "Private Lives" with David Canary, "The King and I" with Lee Meriwether, "Man of La Mancha" with John McCook, "Love Letters" with Ed Asner, Joanna Gleason, John Rubinstein, Sally Struthers and former California Gov. Pete Wilson, the southeastern premiere of David Mamet's "Oleanna" (Carbonnell Award nomination as Best Director), the 30th anniversary revival of "Waiting for Godot" at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, a bi-lingual tour of "Cyrano De Bergerac" and productions of "Sweeney Todd", "The Road To Mecca", "Painting Churches" "Lost in Yonkers", A Little Night Music", "Gypsy" and "Lend Me A Tenor."
As a director and producer of special events, he has worked with Quincy Jones, Stephen Sondheim, Alec Baldwin, Noah Wyle, Annette Bening, Neil Simon, Barry Manilow, Debbie Allen, Dick Clark, Bill Pullman, John Guare, Roma Downey, Patti Austin, August Wilson, Alfre Woodard and Betty White in theatres ranging from Radio City Music Hall to the ms "Crystal Symphony". Luke has also produced special events and trade shows for the Mattel Toy Company all over the country for the past two years.
As a filmmaker, Luke wrote and directed the short film, "Help Is On The Way" starring Lois DeBanzie. He also created "E.H. On Film: An Eileen Heckart Retrospective" and "Barbara Eden: Still Dreaming".
He has taught and guest directed extensively at colleges, universities and conservatories throughout the U.S. and abroad, including five years at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Northwestern, Ohio State, AMDA, Denison, University of New Mexico, the Folkwang Hochschule (in Essen, Germany) and three years on the faculty of Columbia College-Hollywood. For the past six years, he has been a panelist and guest instructor at the William Inge Theatre Festival, where he has perfomed with Marybeth Hurt, Holland Taylor and George Grizzard. He is also a member of their Advisory Board. He is currently on the faculty of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA), teaching advanced acting and scene study.
His theatre acting credits include "Our Town" at the American Shakespesare Theatre with Fred Gwynne, the U.S. premiere of "The Greeks" at The Williamstown Theatre Festival with Gwyneth Paltrow, Blythe Danner, Christopher Reeve and Celeste Holm and "The Dream Watcher" with Eva LeGallienne. In film and television, he has appeared in "The Hiding Place" with Julie Harris, "Ragtime" with Elizabeth McGovern, "Evergreen" with Armand Assante and "The Equalizer" with Jim Dale.
Luke has studied at the Juilliard School of Drama, New York University, Northwestern University, Circle in the Square and the Herbert Berghof Studio.
He is the son of the late Eileen Heckart, who won an Academy Award for "Butterflies Are Free" and appeared in over 15 feature films, 20 Broadway plays, and countless television programs. Ms. Heckart is a member of the Theatre Hall of Fame and a multiple Emmy and Tony Award winner. In her honor, Luke recently created the Eileen Heckart Memorial Scholaship Fund at Ohio State University, her alma mater.
Currently, Luke is the casting director for the Los Angeles based, syndicated TV spot, "Hero In Education". He also recently served as part of a Presidential Blue Ribbon Task Force to create a theatre piece on drug and alcohol abuse, which will tour to high schools and colleges throughout the country.
He has co-written (with
James Bontempo) his first play, "A Place At Forest Lawn",
based on the award-winning one-act play by Lorees Yerby.
It recived its first Equity production in October 2006 at The
Arvada Center for the Arts, a 500-seat theatre outside of Denver.
Winner of the New Noises Festival Playwrighting Award for 2003,
"A Place at Forest Lawn" received a workshop production
which Luke also directed. In addition, he directed staged readings
of the play on both coasts. The Off-Broadway cast included Frances
Sternhagen, Marian Seldes, George Grizzard and Tony Goldwyn. The
Los Angeles cast included Betty White, Marian Ross, John Glover,
Marcia Cross and Steven Culp. Plans are currently underway for
an Off-Broadway production.
Recently, Luke created
DIVA DISH, a one-man show he is touring around the country. It
is a multi-media presentation of show business anecdotes, rare
stills and video footage on "divas" ranging from Marilyn
Monroe and Marlene Dietrich to Paul Newman and Ellen Degeneres.
He has performed DIVA DISH around the country and on both coasts
to highly enthusiastic audiences. For his upcoming tour schedule,
go to www.divadish.net.
His first book,
JUST OUTSIDE THE SPOTLIGHT: GROWING UP WITH EILEEN HECKART
was recently published by Back Stage Books, with a foreword by
Mary Tyler Moore.
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