"Luther" echoes the far more expansive and expensive, though in some ways far less subtle "Marley" and "Fela!," and elides gauche hagiography. You're mostly witnessing Vandross at his most down and out, but nevertheless singing his biggest hits in a wheelchair or with a cane, or otherwise hounded by cruel speculation (his sickness and weight loss resurrected AIDS rumors that dogged him the '80s). The best male vocalist of his lifetime, who sung almost exhaustively about people connecting, was seemingly forever lonely and was possibly, probably, and according to some sources inarguably queer (Jason King again: "Though he never came out as gay, bisexual, or even straight, you had to be wearing blinders—as many of his fans, particularly female, must have been—to overlook his queerness"). Because Vandross himself never commented on it one way or another, and because the play is such a closed-circuit, taking place almost entirely with Vandross chatting with his mother or ducking reporters' questions, his sexuality remains a subtext. But what becomes clear is a tangible sense of how Luther Vandross couldn't really be the person he was (whoever that person was) if he was going to also be this vessel for facilitating the whole world smooching, longing, dancing, doin' it, and persevering.