FLASH FRIDAY: Patti LuPone Pandemonium! EVITA To 54 Below
Today we are saluting one of Broadway's best-loved leading ladies in honor of her new cabaret residency kicking off this week at 54 Below, the one and only Patti LuPone.
Surrender. Honestly, that's really all you can do. With a performer as fiercely committed, ferociously commanding and outright unbelievably gifted as Patti LuPone undoubtedly is, when seated in the same room with her - with you in a seat and she on a stage - waving a white flag is all you can do. She simply devours whatever she chooses to do - and does so with relish, and glee. That is, if it is appropriate to do so given the dramatic realm of the material - she can sell a comedy song like nobody's business, too, as a matter of fact. Yet, it is in the heart-tugging, soul-stirring, tear-inducing, barn-burning songs such as we find in her new 54 Below show titled THE LADY WITH THE TORCH - that is, torch songs (mostly) - that LuPone caresses the heavenly heights of theatrical performance like few others can do, now or ever.
Working her special kind of magic on cherished chestnuts like "The Man I Love" (George & Ira Gershwin), "Ill Wind" (Harold Arlen & Ted Koehler), "I Wanna Be Around" (Johnny Mercer & Sadie Zimmerstedt), "Do It Again" (George Gershwin & B.G. DeSylva) and "My Buddy" (Walter Donaldson & Gus Kahn), LuPone breathes new life into well-worn classics. So, too, does LuPone offer up the showstopping belt and way with a musical theatre lyric that has become her bread and butter in later years with her THE LADY WITH THE TORCH material, as well - Cole Porter's rapturous KISS ME KATE treasure "So In Love", the Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn slow-burner "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry", the touching "The Other Woman" by Jessie Mae Robinson and the roof-raising "Body And Soul" (John W. Green, Edward Heyman, Robert Sour & Frank Eyton) included. Whether revisiting the sensational album itself and its follow-up EP - which includes two Cole Porter CAN-CAN gems ("I Love Paris" and "C'est Magnifique"), as well as Porter's incomparable "Find Me A Primitive Man" - or to actually be one of those lucky enough to be able to attend LuPone's new 54 Below cabaret showcase that kicked off this week (with multiple return appearances scheduled for the rest of the year and next year, too, thanks to a heretofore unprecedented contract with the young cabaret hotspot announced this week), an evening with Patti LuPone is one to savor... and what a divine way to give in, and, well, surrender.
So, now, let's take a look at some of the best Patti LuPone-related moments from over the years as we look ahead to her new 54 Below residency.
First up, here is the original Broadway cast of EVITA performing a slightly truncated version of the Act One Finale, "A New Argentina". Is that a belt or a yodel - technically, it's both!
Next, check out the commercial for the show. Unforgettable!
Closing out the EVITA contingent of our collection, check out this spine-tingling performance by Patti LuPone at the 1980 Grammy Awards, singing the show's famous anthem, "Don't Cry For Me Argentina".
Witness LuPone's perilously high kicks and bravura belting in this Tony Awards performance of "Anything Goes" on the 1988 Tony Awards.
Switching up the mood entirely, here is Lupone's impassioned and engaging "I Dreamed A Dream" from LES MISERABLES in a ten-years-later reprise - in costume, no less - at the 1992 Royal Variety Performance.
And, since the countdown could not possibly be complete without it, here is LuPone's new take on "The Ladies Who Lunch".
No one can blast to the rafters quite like Ms. LuPone, and here she is at the White House doing what she was born to do - on Cole Porter's "Blow, Gabriel, Blow", to boot!
Now, take a look at Patti LuPone on her 1990s TV drama LIFE GOES ON performing Sondheim's "Broadway Baby" from FOLLIES as her character on the show, Libby Thatcher.
In what is perhaps the greatest role of her lifetime - EVITA included - here is Patti LuPone absolutely slaying "Everything's Coming Up Roses" and the last scene from Act One of GYPSY on the 2008 Tony Awards, where she took home her second Tony Award for Best Actress.
Now, here is Patti LuPone in the spectacular concert edition of Stephen Sondheim's SWEENEY TODD.
Also, here is a collection of clips from one of Ms. LuPone's most recent non-concert Broadway stage ventures - WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN.
Go behind the scenes of Patti LuPone's THE LADY WITH THE TORCH solo album.
Patti LuPone sends torchy treasure "I Wanna Be Around" into the stratosphere.
Fans of LuPone's can relate to the gist of this theatrical gem - PAL JOEY's "Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered".
Lastly, LuPone surrenders to a controversial SUNSET BOULEVARD request and revisits the score once again.
As a special bonus, check out this preview video of Patti LuPone's THE LADY WITH THE TORCH at 54 Below.
What precisely is it about Patti LuPone's magnetic presence that so enamors Broadway babies to her decade after decade? Is it her soulful take on standards? Her idiosyncratic delivery? Her passionate dedication to theatre in general? Whatever it may be, Patti LuPone's THE LADY WITH THE TORCH, both onstage and on disc, is an eternal flame worth preserving - and surrendering to, time and time again.
Photo Credits: Jennifer Broski