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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Patti LuPone at Barnes & Noble

Broadway legend Patti LuPone appeared at Barnes & Noble Lincoln Triangle store in NYC on September 16th to promote Patti LuPone- A Memoir, written with Digby Diehl.

The overflow audience was treated to not only a frank discussion of the book with Tom Santopietro, but Ms. LuPone also sang four songs for the delighted group. She started at the beginning, as a four-year-old child performing on stage and realizing that is where she belonged.

She moved through her Juliard years, then her first Broadway show, The Robber Bridegroom, which although it ran for only 14 performances, LuPone received her first Tony nomination.  She sang a lovely rendition of Sleepy Man from the show.

LuPone described the difficulty of singing in Evita, losing her voice frequently and missing several performances. She said "every night, I was scared out of my mind" before her performance, and mentioned that the actress who portrayed Evita in the Australian production gave up music altogether after her run.

She spotted the incomparable Zoe Caldwell in the back of the room, and Ms. Caldwell received a well deserved standing ovation from all.

The discussion of LuPone's run in Anything Goes led to her singing Cole Porter's I Get a Kick (Out of You).  Anything Goes is such a happy, fun show, LuPone said "it should be on Broadway always".

Calling her concert performance with the New York Philharmonic in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd a "great experience from start to finish" she moved into a discussion of her most recent Broadway show, Gypsy.

But everyone perked their ears up when Sunset Boulevard was mentioned. LuPone laughingly said "I didn't tell half the story!" Saying "I'm gonna say stuff, f*#k, I don't care", she went on to say about the creator Andrew Lloyd Webber, "everyone knows Andrew is a screw loose, a strange dude".

She said that the London production was a "juggernaut of bad energy" and "everyone recognized all the signs, but went forward anyway." She decried "the underhanded method they used to get me to crumble so they wouldn't have to pay my New York salary."

(LuPone found out that she would not be the lead in the Broadway production as she was contracted to when she read it in a gossip column. She successfully sued the producers.)

The next song was Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered from Pal Joey, a strong yet sweet version. After an audience member asked why she no longer sang I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables in her concerts, LuPone offered to sing it, but her accompanist did not have the sheet music. As if on cue, another audience member pulled the music out of her bag and it was in the right key for LuPone. She left everyone with tears in their eyes and I got goosebumps as she sang this moving song, now forever linked with Susan Boyle. Susan Boyle is good, but she's no Patti LuPone.

The evening was amazing, the chance to hear LuPone sing such iconic songs in such an intimate setting was worth waiting for three hours on the floor of Barnes & Noble. She was also very kind to each person who got a book signed, and I can't wait to read it.

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