Saturday, April 17, 2010

Patti's New Book

Playbill Online recently showed off the book cover of the forthcoming autobiography of Broadway legend Patti LuPone, rather cheekily titled Patti LuPone: A Memoir.  Sounds so sweet and demure...classy, even.  Well, I am sure that La LuPone's book will be classy - as classy as the lady herself.  And I'm willing to bet there are some sweet stories.

But we all know why we are all going rush out and buy a copy... we want the dirt!  The honesty, the tell-it-like-it-is, volcano on the verge of eruption stuff that makes one of Broadway's greatest entertainers ever, tick.  I want to know what makes a diva a diva... and I don't necessarily mean a bitchfest tell-all, but rather a passionate story of working your way up the ranks, the highs, the lows, the Sunset Boulevard story...

I am hoping that it will be, above all, entertaining, and full of all the things we love about the woman with the golden pipes and fire hot intensity.  And I hope there is something in there about having an impeccable work ethic, a joy of acting, and of constantly learning, no matter how high up the ladder she is.

I have been so fortunate to have seem Ms. LuPone on several occasions.

  • My first brush with her was in 1987 at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre.  The show was Anything Goes and she was Reno Sweeney.  Glamour and stage presence... not to mention some dandy tap dancing...

  • Then, there was the TV show, Life Goes On, which I never missed.  Watching her scenes with her downs syndrome son, Corky, and doing battle with her daughter, Becca, were guaranteed touching, funny and dramatic moments each and every week.  For a time, it was on TV with Murder, She Wrote - two Broadway legends in my living room every week!  (God, I am so gay...)

  • Then, in 1995, I saw her one woman show, Patti LuPone...On Broadway! at the Walter Kerr Theatre.  What a concert!  What fun to see her recreate moments from Evita, Les Miserables, and even Sunset Boulevard - in a stolen costume, no less!

  • In 2001, I saw her in a play (versus a musical) for the first time, and she was hilarious - stole the show almost.  The role: Dottie Utley.  The play: Noises Off.  Great to see her with an all-star cast, including a pre-Grey's Anatomy T.R. Knight.

  • Then there was the convention-breaking brilliance of her understated and terrifying performance as Mrs. Lovett in the revival of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street opposite Michael Cerveris.  The performance was stunning.

  • 2008 (has it really been that long ago already?) brought her back to Broadway in the role she was born to play (and has a Tony to show for it).  Rose in Gypsy.  Again, stunning.  "Rose's Turn" will never again be done as well as it was then.

Most recently, I had the priviledge of seeing Ms. LuPone in a smaller, more private venue doing her "Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda" act for a local charity.  She was larger than life and still down to earth.  She made fun of herself, of her "persona", and reminded herself (and us) just how much she appreciates the life she has been given.  "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" was a show-stopper, as was "Everything's Coming Up Roses."  Of course, she's a show-stopper all by herself.  She walked out and got a 3 minute standing ovation before she even said or sang a word.

Patti LuPone: A Memoir is due to be released September 14.

Have a Patti story you'd like to share?  Email me at or leave a comment here.

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