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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 25, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 13
Here she is, world! Here's Patti LuPone!
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Here she is, world! Here's Patti LuPone!

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

PATTI LUPONE IN CONCERT -
'DON'T MONKEY WITH BROADWAY'
EDMONDS CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Thursday, April 21
MOUNT BAKER THEATRE (BELLINGHAM)
Saturday, April 23


The name Patti LuPone is synonymous with Broadway. Her magnificent vocals and strong stage presence exploded in 1979 when she created the Tony Award winning Broadway title role of Evita. Since then her name has been linked with the Great White Way through many avenues: Anything Goes, Master Class, Noises Off, Sweeney Todd, her Tony Award winning role in Gypsy, and of course, her actions on 'Theatre Etiquette.' Her book Patti

LuPone: A Memoir gives even greater details on her life as an actress and all of her theatrical experiences. As Ms. LuPone gets ready for a return concert to the Pacific Northwest the Seattle Gay News chatted with the Great Diva of Broadway!

Eric Andrews-Katz: Who were your earliest influences?

Patti LuPone: Bette Davis, Busby Berkeley, and Edith Piaf. I just liked their work, so maybe that's the real influence; is in admiring someone else's work.

Andrews-Katz: How did John Houseman's The Acting Company prepare you for a life in the theatre?

LuPone: It was when we were touring in a repertory company. We were so young, inexperienced, and sometimes working in adverse conditions. It was how we learned to surmount those obstacles and still perform well. There is nothing I can't do, and that's primarily because of The Acting Company and our experiences on the road.

Andrews-Katz: You've said that despite it making you a Broadway star, Evita was the most difficult role you've ever done. What made it so difficult?

LuPone: The singing. It's a very rangy show, and the high notes [written for the show] are the weakest part of my voice. In order to portray her [Evita] accurately, you can't sing that part lyrically. It has to be sung out. I don't want to use the word 'belter' but it has to use power. I was afraid I was going to blow out my voice. And I did.

Andrews-Katz: Can you tell us about the several encounters you've claimed to have with the ghost of Evita Peron?

LuPone: I describe them in my book.

Andrews-Katz: On stage you have done drama, comedy, farces, straight plays, musicals and solo concerts. Which do prefer and why?

LuPone: I don't have any preferences. I'm lucky to be working. As varied as it is, I'm really lucky I have the opportunity to work on the stage, on film, or in concerts. I designed it that way, in the years I didn't work, so they wouldn't pigeonhole me. It was the way I was trained as an actor. It paid off. I came home from 'Penny Dreadful' and went into a Dram-edy film. I'm singing now, and soon I'll be going into rehearsals for a new musical. It's called War Paint, based on the rivalry of Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden. [War Paint, the musical is written by Doug Wright with music and lyrics by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie, and is based on the book by Lindy Woodhead.]

Andrews-Katz: Knowing what you learned from Evita, what made you decide to play Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard?

LuPone: Primarily, I wanted to get out of L.A. When you are a leading lady, unless it is a terrible play, you don't say 'No.'

Andrews-Katz: Women on the Verge (of a Nervous Breakdown) had a great cast and great songs. Was it the competition that gave it a short run, or are people hesitant to see newer, avant-garde musicals?

LuPone: I don't think it was given time to breath. I think it was a terrific musical and when you have to face New York critics, you have to work twice as hard. It was part of the Regional Theatre and was only supposed to run for three months (with hope of extending it). It didn't get its time to let it live. We opened cold in New York City.

Andrews-Katz: Personally, I praise you as the 'Defender of Theatre Respect & Etiquette.' I don't even let my friends wear blue jeans to the theater.

LuPone: Good for you!

Andrews-Katz: In reality, is there anything a theater can do to enforce the 'no pictures and no recording' rules?

LuPone: Absolutely! They don't and that's the sad part for me, is that they leave it up to the actors to do the performance and catch them. It is the [theatre] house's responsibility, the responsibility of the ushers, the house managers, etc.& not the actors. I read in an article that Dave Chappelle is working on a recording-free environment. I can understand that because in Stand Up, if you're jokes are stolen, that's your paycheck! In the theatre there should be someway to scramble the sound. It's always one or two people that are so disrespectful and selfish.

Andrews-Katz: They say an actress learns something from every part. What have you learned playing 'The Cut-Wife' on 'Penny Dreadful'?

LuPone: I don't know whether they are talking about stage or film. I don't think you can learn anything when only playing a role for a month. It takes a year or more to learn [something substantial].

Andrews-Katz: Who are the composers that you enjoy singing?

LuPone: I love David Yazbek. I sing Scott Frankel - who wrote the music for War Paint and Michael Korie. There's Scott Whitman, Marc Shaman and, of course, Sondheim. I'm lucky I get to work with composers that are alive.

Andrews-Katz: How did you pick the right selection of songs for your upcoming concert, 'Don't Monkey With Broadway'?

LuPone: It's a story and the songs fall into place. I have been working with Scott [Whitman] for over 20 years, and we wanted to update the previous concert, 'Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda & Played That Part,' and I started to think about how I became a Broadway performer. That is the question I ask, and I answer that by singing the songs I sang as a kid.

Andrews-Katz: Rumors say you have officially retired, to use your words, 'that song about Argentina and all the tears.' Is this true?

LuPone: (laughing) No. No. I don't know where that came from.

Andrews-Katz: If you could play any role - regardless of any gender or race limitations - what would it be and why?

LuPone: I don't even know if I can answer that question. I don't know. I don't think that way. My career takes me by surprise. If I want a role, I don't get them. I stopped wanting roles, and so I'm more thrilled by the surprises in my career.

Andrews-Katz: Ms. LuPone, I want to say thank you for your time. I look forward to seeing your work once more.

LuPone: You're an angel! Thank you for being prepared with good questions!

Patti LuPone has appeared in more than 26 Broadway shows and has been nominated for six Tony Awards. She has won the Tony Award twice (for Evita and Gypsy) as well as two Grammy Awards. Patti LuPone will be performing her solo concert, 'Don't Monkey With Broadway' on April 21 at the Edmonds Center for the Arts (http://www.edmondscenterforthearts.org/events/eca-presents-patti-lupone) and on April 23 at the Mount Baker Theatre in Bellingham (http://www.mountbakertheatre.com/shows/patti-lupone-coulda-woulda-shoulda-played-that-part).

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