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TONYS 2008 Q&A: Patti LuPone

Patti LuPone recently won a Tony Award nomination as well as the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Actress in a Musical and the Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance of the 2007 -2008 season for her performance as Rose in the critically-acclaimed new Broadway production of the classic Jule Styne-Stephen Sondheim-Arthur Laurents landmark musical Gypsy, directed by the show's author, Mr. Laurents, currently at the St. James Theatre.

She has brought her special brand of "star quality" to shows such as Evita, for which she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, The Robber Bridegroom, Oliver!, Les Miserables, Anything Goes, Master Class, Sunset Boulevard and Sweeney Todd. The roles of Eva Peron, Reno Sweeney, Norma Desmond, and Mrs. Lovett have all lead her to her current triumph as Mama Rose.

She was a member of Julliard's first graduating class in 1972 and soon after a member of John Houseman's The Acting Company, she has brought her training, passion and intelligence to everything she has done, from theater, film, television and the concert stage. A master of her craft, she is actor, icon and most importantly, "Mom". had a moment to spend with her at the Tony Nominee Breakfast, she was warm, relaxed and engaged as she shared some insights into performing the work and the history behind the story of Gypsy.

Eddie Varley: Congratulations to you and everyone in the company

Patti LuPone: Oh, thank you.

EV: How are you feeling, it must be such a special time? You all are bringing the show to such thrilling life.

PL: Oh, I'm relieved, and I'm extremely grateful for everybody in the company and especially Arthur. Arthur cast it with actors and by a sheer fluke, he was allowed to have the 11 principals for a week around the table, which never happens in a musical, and we discovered the book, and we continue to discover the book. And he formed an ensemble of actors, Arthur took the biggest risk.

EV: I'm so glad he was recognized. 

PL: Me too, you know, I mean the fact that he took the biggest risk, because if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and Gypsy certainly ain't broke, and he took a chance with rediscovering it as opposed to imposing preconceived ideas, blocking, dancing numbers, etc, and I think that what makes it fresh.

EV: I think this season that's what everyone is saying and feeling, the revivals are so fresh, but never more so than with this Gypsy, and your performances, there's such depth and emotion in the family.

PL: Well, I don't see her as a monster, I see her as a mother, and she loves her kids,

EV: I really felt that bond between you and your 'daughters", there was such a fierce love there.

PL: And that's the way we're approaching it, I read the books, and um, I sort of was lead by June's book about Rose, Rose's mom had a talent, and would leave and would come in and out of the family, Rose's mom made fancy underwear for upper class women.

She went away, plied her trade, came back into the family, and I think her mother's mother left too, so it must have been a trait. But the women were stronger than the men they married, and she found an out in the talent of June. She clearly knew what she was doing, because both of those women ended up being stars.

EV: Exactly, the end result was that! Thank you for giving us insight into those women, and congratulations again!

PL: Oh, my pleasure!

GYPSY, the musical fable suggested by the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, is written by three legendary theatrical giants. The book is by two-time Tony Award winning legend Arthur Laurents, with music by two-time Tony Award winner Jule Styne and lyrics by multiple Tony Award winner Stephen Sondheim. The 1959 blockbuster, originally directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, boasts a legendary score with such classic songs as "Everything's Coming Up Roses," "Rose's Turn" and "Some People."


The smash hit new production of GYPSY opened to rave reviews. Ben Brantley of the New York Times exclaimed "Watch out New York! This GYPSY is a wallop-packing show of raw power!" while liz smith of the New York Post declared the show to be the "best production of the best damned musical ever!" and David Rooney of Variety said "Patti LuPone's GYPSY is one for the history books."

Tickets for GYPSY are $117.00 - $42.00 and are available through Telecharge at (212) 239-6200 or or by visiting the St.JamesTheatre box office. Premium seating is available. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Wednesday and Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Photos by Walter McBride/Retna Ltd.

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