Patti LuPone: A Life in Notes

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Patti LuPone

A Life in Notes

Scottsdale Center for the Arts, Scottsdale, AZ, April 16, 2024

Reviewed by Charlotte Brooks

Patti LuPone
Photo: Rahav Segev/

Look up synonyms for “phenomenal” in the thesaurus and grab as many as you can. Those will describe Patti LuPone’s voice and her long-anticipate performance at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts in Scottsdale, Arizona.

A Life in Notes began with the sounds of LuPone’s music director Joseph Thalken at the piano and Brad Phillips managing various string instruments. The cheering began in earnest as LuPone, wearing a black tux and an attitude came strutting onto the stage. “A Song for You” (Leon Russell) opened the show, and it was truly the perfect way to introduce the Broadway, pop, and Great American Songbook songs that were touchstones from LuPone’s life (so far) as she reminded us. She spoke about how the show would feature songs that meant something to her, starting with those from her growing up in Northport on Long Island in New York State.

She included a few late-1950/early-1960s pop tunes: “Summertime, Summertime” (Tom Jameson/Sherm Feller), “Teen Angel” (Jean Surrey), and my personal 1961 teen favorite, “Town Without Pity” (Dimitri Tiomkin/Ned Washington). The audience happily embraced the songs from this decade, all filled with joy, drama, and wonderful/terrible adolescent angst. LuPone spoke of how music crystalizes moments in time and how songs allow us to remember exactly where we were, and what we were doing.

I have to give major props to Thalken and Phillips. They were flawless on their instruments, and their backup vocals were spot on. One of the most simple and quietly beautiful songs of the evening was “Ebb Tide” (Carl Sigman/Robert Maxwell), in which Thalken and Phillips provided a rich harmonic blend. It was a standout.

“On Broadway” (Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller) opened the second half of the concert as LuPone appeared in a stunning (where are those synonyms?) cream-colored gown with some sparkles and a dramatic, flowy cape. The cape was incorporated to full effect in “The Showstoppers” segment, which finally came and included “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” (Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice), which did not disappoint. Her performance was so compelling that no other sound could be heard in the theater. Everyone was focused, and every nuance was observed. In her autobiography, A Memoir, LuPone said Evita was the most difficult role she had been given to play. She added that she had struggled with the role and its difficult and challenging songs. “If I didn’t hit the first D correctly it affected the rest of the night, which affected the rest of the week.”

She immediately followed with “I Dreamed a Dream” (Claude-Michel Schonberg/Alain Boublil/Herbert Kretzmer from Les Misérables) and it was another triumph. Completing the “Showstopper” trifecta was the iconic “Ladies Who Lunch” (Stephen Sondheim from Company). By this time the audience was standing, cheering, and applauding like crazy.

The encore, “In My Life” (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) and “Those Were the Days” (Gene Raskin) completed the evening. What a voice. What a show. What a A Life in Notes! Pass the synonyms.

Charlotte Brooks

Charlotte has composed, arranged, taught and performed for a very long time. Very long. Although dancing in a Broadway show was the original goal, a lack of balance and coordination quickly put an end to that ambition. Acquiring a family piano, nicely filled the performing gap. To provide an opportunity for professional level performance cabarets, 16 Bars was launched in 2009. This was a new venture, and a poke in the comfort zone But as Neil Simon once said:” If no one ever took risks, Michelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor!” Charlotte has taught music related content at all grade levels, and continues writing essays, songs, and cabarets. It was an honor to write a song for the Arizona Historical League, and iconic to hear Glen Campbell sing it as The League recognized distinguished Arizona ‘History Makers.’ When I was a child my dad told me I needed to find what I loved to do and do it! Luckily, I have.