×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Patti Lupone on Broadway

Actually, LuPone isn't shy about letting the cry out, and her dramatic, theatrical style is perfectly suited to the Walter Kerr Theater. In other settings -- and before other auds -- LuPone's emotional reading of an emotional song like the Weill-Brecht "Surabaya Johnny" could seem hopelessly stagy. Here, it's as fitting as the gilded architecture.

Actually, LuPone isn’t shy about letting the cry out, and her dramatic, theatrical style is perfectly suited to the Walter Kerr Theater. In other settings — and before other auds — LuPone’s emotional reading of an emotional song like the Weill-Brecht “Surabaya Johnny” could seem hopelessly stagy. Here, it’s as fitting as the gilded architecture.

The show is broken into two acts, the first a mix of standards (Cole Porter’s “I Get a Kick Out of You,” Irving Berlin’s “Always”), novelty numbers (“Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens”), contemporary pop (“Get Here”) and Weill (“I’m a Stranger Here Myself,””My Ship”). Her powerhouse rendering of Stephen Sondheim’s “Being Alive” is just the note to end the first act.

But it’s the second act that really gives the crowd what it paid for — a catalog of LuPone’s own theater hits. Starting with a lovely version of James Taylor’s “Looking for Love on Broadway,” LuPone moves into her “best of” set with a visual joke — arms outstretched in that “Evita” pose — that displays her self-mocking humor.

Then comes the torrent: “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina,””Sleepy Man” (from “The Robber Bridegroom”), “Meadowlark” (from “The Baker’s Wife”), “As Long as He Needs Me” (from “Oliver!”), “I Dreamed a Dream” (from “Les Miserables”), a lovely “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” (from “Pal Joey”), and “Anything Goes.”

Thunderous applause is reserved for a song she’s singing on Broadway for the first time: “As if We Never Said Goodbye” from “Sunset Boulevard.” LuPone gets considerable comic mileage from her famous dismissal by Andrew Lloyd Webber. As with the rest of the spoken material (credit Jeffrey Richman), some anecdotes hit their marks, others don’t. She’s at her best in the more relaxed moments.

And, of course, when she’s singing. Backed by four top-notch vocalists — Bryon Motley, Josef Powell, Gene Van Buren and John West, collectively known as the Mermen — LuPone is in great voice for the show, and does some especially effective harmonizing with the Mermen on “Sleepy Man” and Berlin’s “Moonshine Lullaby.”

Despite an occasional tinniness, LuPone’s six-piece band does well by John McDaniel’s arrangements. Several songs performed with only piano accompaniment prove LuPone’s ability to fill a theater with little assistance. Indeed, the production as a whole seems blessedly under-produced, with no set to speak of and lighting (by John Hastings) that is tasteful, attractive and unobtrusive.

The production’s understatement — and that’s certainly not to say LuPone’s understatement — presents the singer to her best advantage, proving that happy endings are possible: Patti LuPone is back on Broadway, and there ain’t a dead monkey or flying staircase in sight.

Patti Lupone on Broadway

(Walter Kerr Theater, New York; 905 seats; $ 60 top)

Production: A Jujamcyn Theaters presentation of a concert in two acts starring Patti LuPone. Conceived and directed by Scott Wittman, written by Jeffrey Richman. Musical director, Dick Gallagher; musical arrangements, John McDaniel; lights, John Hastings; sound, Otts Munderloh; musical coordinator, John Monaco; additional musical arrangements, Steven D. Bowen, Dick Gallagher, Glen Roven, Marc Shaiman, Jonathan Tunick; production stage manager, George Darveris. Opened Oct. 12, 1995; reviewed Oct. 10. Running time: 2 hours. In a diva-packed Broadway season, Patti LuPone bursts front and center with "Patti LuPone on Broadway," a concert staging that meshes all the affection and drama of a homecoming with the brash musical talent that is La LuPone. If the singer's rabid fans are at all disappointed, it'll stem from the familiarity of the event -- the show is nearly identical to the 1993 L.A. concerts released on a double CD set that year. But even that won't dampen the wildly enthusiastic receptions that LuPone will draw from audiences over the next six weeks. Nor should it: Despite some hit-and-miss between-song patter, LuPone commandeers a Broadway stage like few other performers. A belter in the tradition of Ethel Merman, LuPone can also be a remarkably supple, tender vocalist, with something close to a cry shading her delivery.

More Legit

  • Alexander Dinelaris

    'Jekyll and Hyde' Movie in the Works Based on Broadway Musical

    The Broadway musical “Jekyll and Hyde” is getting the movie treatment from Academy Award winner Alexander Dinelaris. Dinelaris, who is writing and producing the adaptation, won an Oscar for the “Birdman” script and was a co-producer on “The Revenant.” He is producing “Jekyll and Hyde” as the first project under his New York-based development company, [...]

  • Sam Mendes

    Listen: The 'Balls-Out Theatricality' of Sam Mendes

    If you find yourself directing a Broadway play with a cast so big it includes a goose, two rabbits, more kids than you can count and an actual infant, what do you do? If you’re Sam Mendes, you embrace the “balls-out theatricality” of it all. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “There is a kind [...]

  • James Corden Tony Awards

    James Corden to Host 2019 Tony Awards (EXCLUSIVE)

    James Corden has been tapped to once again host the Tony Awards, Variety has learned exclusively. “The Late Late Show” host previously emceed the annual theater awards show in 2016, and won the Tony for best actor in a play for his performance in “One Man, Two Guvnors” in 2012. “I’m thrilled to be returning to [...]

  • Frozen review Broadway

    ‘Frozen’ the Musical Opening in London in 2020

    “Frozen” the musical is coming to London and will open in the West End in fall 2020. The Michael Grandage-directed Disney Theatrical Productions stage show has been on Broadway for a year. Grandage’s production is now set to re-open Andrew Lloyd Webber’s refurbished Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez are behind the [...]

  • Nantucket Sleigh Ride review

    Off Broadway Review: John Guare's 'Nantucket Sleigh Ride'

    Anyone who doesn’t have a cottage on the Cape or the Islands, as they say in Massachusetts, might be puzzled by the title of John Guare’s new play.  “Nantucket Sleigh Ride” is no Revere Beach amusement park ride, but an old whaling term for the death throes of a whale that is still attached to [...]

  • Kiss Me Kate review

    Broadway Review: 'Kiss Me, Kate'

    No, Kate doesn’t get spanked. And for those wondering how the dicey ending of “Kiss Me, Kate” — that musical mashup of “The Taming of the Shrew” and backstage battling exes — would come across in these more sensitive times, well, that’s also been reconsidered for the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Broadway revival of the Cole [...]

  • Betrayal review Tom Hiddleston

    West End Review: Tom Hiddleston in 'Betrayal'

    It takes three to tango, and Jamie Lloyd’s “Betrayal” completely grasps that. Having made it his mission to modernize the way we stage Harold Pinter’s plays, his chic, stripped-down staging starring Tom Hiddleston as a cuckolded husband might be his best attempt yet. Pared back and played out on an empty stage, this masterful play [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content