Patti LuPone: Don’t Monkey with Broadway

Patti LuPone

Don’t Monkey with Broadway

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts,
Scottsdale, AZ, November 8, 2019

Reviewed by Lynn Timmons Edwards

Patti LuPone

Those who teach sometimes can still DO in spades. Patti LuPone brought energy, vocal prowess, and perfect lyric articulation to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts with her own brand of Broadway. Accompanied by the dexterous Joseph Thalken, “Don’t Monkey with Broadway” (song by Cole Porter and from LuPone’s 2017 CD of the same name) kept its promise. With a stark stage and a grand piano holding a vase of red roses, all she needed was multiple glasses of water to sing in our dry dessert climate. She chose songs that weaved through her life from her high school days to now. She recounted her first professional audition for Sweet Charity with “Big Spender” (where she received a final ca-l back), her move to New York, her education at Juilliard, and being a founding member of The Acting Company. As a young intern in New York, I saw her appear with Kevin Kline in The Robber Bridegroom and recall John Houseman handing out the programs at that performance. “Sleepy Man” sits as beautifully in her voice now as it did in 1975.

She shared her highs and lows with “Easy to Be Hard” (Hair), “Happy Talk” (South Pacific), “Meadowlark” (The Baker’s Wife), and “Millwork” (Working). She applauded Rodgers and Hart with “I Could Write a Book” and “There’s a Small Hotel.” She closed out the first half of her show with “If” (Jule Styne/Comden & Green), “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy, and “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”— all perfectly executed.

If you have seen her master classes for young singers and actors, you know she has a distinctive point of view about performance and commitment. She resumed her show with 15 very talented vocalists from the Arizona State University Lyric Opera Theatre (L.O.T.) as her chorus. They delighted the audience with the classics “Ya Got Trouble” (The Music Man), “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat” (Guys and Dolls), and “Blow Gabriel Blow” (Anything Goes). After the students left the stage, LuPone dived into Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein with three songs from West Side Story. Her “A Boy Like That” showed off her brilliant comedic timing as she sang both parts. Just when it seemed her voice was tiring she turned it on again with “Another Hundred People,” “Anyone Can Whistle,” “Not While I’m Around,” and “Being Alive.”

She brought the show full circle with “Give My Regards to Broadway.” The encore had to be “Ladies Who Lunch,” although she did not tout her upcoming return to Broadway in 2020 in the revival of Company. The final moments brought her together with her students from L.O.T. with Bernstein and Comden & Green’s “Some Other Time.” You could see the pride and passion she has for young artists ,and they all received a résumé plum by sharing the stage with Patti LuPone.

Lynn Timmons Edwards

Lynn writes and performs themed cabaret shows based on the songs of the Great American Songbook throughout Arizona. She has had three short plays produced in the Theatre Artists Studio Festival of Summer Shorts and is working on a full length play, "Fairy," based on the life of Mary Russell Ferrell Colton, a founder of the Museum of Northern Arizona. In addition to writing and singing, Lynn plays bridge and tennis and enjoys traveling with her husband and artistic companion, Bob. Born in Ohio, Lynn is a graduate of Denison University (BA), Arizona State University (MPA) and has lived in Arizona since 1977.