Patti Lupone - The Lady With a Torch
Looking much like a school teacher from the 60's in a tailored white blouse and black flowing skirt complete with wrist high white gloves, this compact lady delivered a no-nonsense evening of torch carrying tunes. In this tour-de-force show, Ms. Lupone announced that she is indeed carrying a torch, but one that takes on several meanings. As she describes, "torch, as in short for torture, or torch as in something you believe in, or torch as in a means to light your way."
The songs are about love- love lost, remembered, regained, revenged, and loving yourself. The mix of material include tunes that are gentle, somber, sultry, funny and fiesty but most of all, are delivered with a heart-on-her sleeves, 'whadda think about that?,' attitude.
Born on April 21, 1949 in Northport, Long Island, Patti is a Juillard trained actress who has been giving 110% of herself in every role. From her early days in 1975 with The Robber Bridegroom (which earned her a Tony and Drama Desk nomination) through her 1980 Tony and Drama Desk winning performance in Evita, Patti has never held anything back while expressing herself.
Her musical numbers in the "torch" concert consist of some wonderful story tunes including a powerhouse version of "Frankie & Johnnie" and a sexy little Billy Barnes number called "Something Cool" the tale of a chance meeting in a bar. There are also a few soft, poignant mood makers namely "A Cottage For Sale" by Willard Robinson/Larry Conley and a fine medley arrangement of "Miss Lonleyhearts/My Buddy," which show Patti's vulnerable side. Lupone's best side though is presented with her playful, roudy versions of "Who's Sorry Now?" dedicated to her grandmother who sang this one over her dead husband's body (or so Patti claims). Also two lesser known tunes, "Everything Happens to Me" ( Matt Dennis/Tom Adair) and "I Regret Everything" by Bill Burnett/Peggy Sarlen.
Patti is the first to tell everyone that actors who work, live in dressing rooms, theaters and hotels for most of their careers. She, however, has found her way into the country life in a lovely, large, log house spread on 26 acres of rocky soil and woods in Connecticut. Patti relishes her solitude with her husband Matthew Johnston and son Josh. You've heard of the house that Jack built? Well, this is the house that Broadway built. "Evita bought the land, Anything Goes bought the house and Sunset Boulevard stocked the pond, dug the pool and started the farm. Yes, I'm a chicken farmer who happens to sing."
Like a handful of stages' most glorious voices, Patti debuted her "Lady With A Torch" concert at Carnegie Hall in March of 2005 and her reactions were simply "What a show, what a hall, what a band." It's currently unconfirmed, but anticipated that Patti will soon recreate her role of Mrs. Lovett in the Broadway bound Sweeney Todd which will open at the O'Neill theater on November 3, 2005 with Michael Cerveris playing the razor wielding, singing, murdering barber. Lupone fondly recalls her meat pies days in the 2000 production with George Hearn as "the proudest moment of her career."
Lady With A Torch does not include the most notable or familiar songs, and Patti pointedly presents her show in two acts. "This is act two because I'm not done yet."
Few singers could pull off these songs that might be best appreciated in a small cabaret setting. Patti LuPone breathes magic into these numbers as she caresses every note and simply sells each tune with her gutsy attitude and smirky smile that lights up the house and commands the evening.
By Myself, I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry, Something Cool, A Cottage For Sale, I Had A Little Sorrow, Ill Wind, Softly As In A Morning Sunrise, A Man In A Raincoat, I Wanna Be Around, Who's Sorry Now?, Frankie And Johnnie, The Other Woman, The Man I Love, Nightlife, Make It Another Old Fashion, Please, Me And My Shadow, Find Me A Primitive Man, Do It Again, Early Autumn, Everything Happens To Me, I'm Through With Love, So In Love, Miss Lonleyhearts/My Buddy, I Regret Everything, C'EST Magnifique, I Love Paris, Body And Soul.
Patti LuPone "The Lady With The Torch" played at the Lenape Regional Performing Arts Center, Marlton, NJ on June 25 & 26.
For Lenape PAC tickets and information: visit www.sjtheater.com or call 856.983.3366
Visit Patti's website: www.pattilupone.net
Photo credits: Anna Thompson & Lenape Press Rep.