Review: Patti LuPone Splendidly Sings of A LIFE IN NOTES

Tony Award-winner performed at Symphony Hall on April 2

By: Apr. 03, 2024
Review: Patti LuPone Splendidly Sings of A LIFE IN NOTES
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In the past few years, Patti LuPone has resigned from Actor’s Equity Association and suspended her legendary Broadway career, but as she proved with her Celebrity Series of Boston performance at Symphony Hall on April 2, the three-time Tony Award winner can still command a concert stage.

The singer opened the first half of her program, “A Life in Notes,” with Leon Russell’s plaintive “A Song for You” before seamlessly segueing into “Come On-a My House,” a 1951 hit for Rosemary Clooney written by Ross Bagdasarian and his cousin, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright William Saroyan (“The Time of Your Life”).

The performer’s stage patter – including memories of her childhood on Long Island, N.Y., and early crushes on Disney star Tommy Kirk and 1950s and ’60s sex symbol Troy Donahue – was warmly received. “I found the most handsome photo of Troy Donahue in a movie magazine, and I tore it out so I could kiss the photo over and over again,” recalled LuPone with a laugh. “And believe me, it wasn’t the worst kiss I’ve ever had.”

Accompanied by music director and arranger Joseph Thalken, also smooth on select backing vocals, and string instrumentalist Brad Phillips, the two-time Grammy Award winner blended the humor with appealing, gentle takes on “We Kiss in a Shadow,” from the 1951 Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II musical “The King and I,” and “Teen Angel,” the 1959 Jean Dinning and Red Surrey hit about young love and tragedy.

LuPone’s famed mezzo-soprano was on full display on the Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin torch song “The Man That Got Away,” made famous by Judy Garland in the 1954 version of the film “A Star is Born,” 1961’s “Town without Pity,” by composer Dimitri Tiomkin and lyricist Ned Washington, and Gene Raskin’s “Those Were the Days,” a 1968 chart-topper for Welsh singer Mary Hopkin.

She also brought her own musical lilt to “Alfie,” the pop hit by composer Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David that was recorded by Cher, on the soundtrack of the 1966 film of the same name, and some 40 other artists before Dionne Warwick took it to number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967.

The versatile singer and actor, who will be seen later this year in the Marvel Comics miniseries “Agatha” on Disney+, has amassed a legion of devoted and loyal fans during her 50-year Broadway career. In Boston, she didn’t let them down, performing a show-stopping “Some People” from “Gypsy: A Musical Fable.” LuPone won her second Tony Award for the 2009 revival of the Jule Styne musical, with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

Returning to the stage following an intermission, having changed from a bedazzled black pantsuit to a shimmering silver gown given added glamor by a cape that embraced her bare shoulders, LuPone received the audience’s applause with emotion before launching into a winningly up-tempo “On Broadway,” by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil in collaboration with Mike Stoller and Jerry Lieber.

Much to the delight of her near-capacity audience, LuPone followed with a trio of songs she made famous, beginning with her career-defining “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice,” from 1978’s “Evita,” which won LuPone her first Tony Award and catapulted her into the stratosphere of musical theater superstars.

First heard in 1985 when she originated the role of Fantine in the West End production of Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, and Herbert Kretzmer’s “Les Misérables,” LuPone’s soaring vocals were once again memorable on “I Dreamed a Dream.”

Her most recent Tony-winning triumph, as Joanne in the 2021 revival of Stephen Sondheim’s “Company,” provided another of the evening’s many musical and comedic highlights, with LuPone no less than superb on “The Ladies Who Lunch.” And after the martini-swilling Joanne emptied her glass on a down-front Symphony Hall patron, LuPone quietly apologized to the concertgoer, explaining that it was only water.

Even actual water, however, couldn’t dampen the audience’s ardor for LuPone or her second-half song list comprised of everything from the 1934 title song of Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes,” the 1987 revival of which starred LuPone as Reno Sweeney, to Porter’s 1944 American Songbook standard, “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.”

After putting her own stamp on the 1973 Bob Dylan classic “Forever Young,” LuPone offered an encore that coupled a warm-toned rendering of the Beatles’ “In My Life” with a reprise of “Those Were the Days,” and sent the audience out swooning.

Photo caption: Patti LuPone brought her “A Life in Notes” concert to Symphony Hall on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. Photo credit: Robert Torres/Celebrity Series of Boston.


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