Patti LuPone received the 2008 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for the recent revival of Gypsy. She also won the Tony for the title role of the original production of Evita in 1980. Her other credits include: Sunset Boulevard, Anything Goes, Oliver!, Working, The Old Neighborhood, Master Class, Pal Joey, Les Misérables & The Cradle Will Rock. She was also seen on Broadway as Mrs. Lovett in the recent revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, where she actually played the tuba.Last year she was Tony nominated for the musical- Women On The Verge.
LuPone has rarely seen her name above the title or the opening credits on a TV shoe, but when it comes to the stage, there are only a very few performers who rival her. LuPone: “I’m not a movie actress… I think I’m a hard sell in the movies.”
The Juilliard graduate (she was in the first class of the Actor's Program) has had her greatest success in musical theatre. It is a great trumpet of a singing voice, but it is her acting chops that have transformed songs like Don’t Cry for Me Argentina or Rose’s Turn, from Gypsy. Rose is most certainly the most ferocious role for a woman ever written for an American musical. LuPone: “It was great, Arthur Laurents (the original book writer & director of the last revival) assembled a spectacular cast, we really were a triumvirate. I don’t think you can act alone. You need partners on stage.”
Last year I read her very candid biography- Patti Lupone: A Memoir. I was laughing out loud at the audacity of her very raw openness about her life & her co-workers. LuPone’s emotional readiness has made her a Broadway & Gay Icon.
LuPone is closely identified with the songs of Stephen Sondheim, which she performs in concert. She played much of the Sondheim repertoire: Gypsy, Passion, Company, Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. Only 2 have eluded her. LuPone: “I wanted to play Desiree in A Little Night Music . I contacted Trevor Nuun , who didn’t contact me back. Really the last Sondheim role for me is the Witch in Into the Woods, which I was originally offered! After it left San Diego they offered it to me; I said I would like to play Cinderella, so I came in & auditioned for that. Then they said, ‘We still want you to play the Witch.’ Then negotiations fell apart.”
At the second to last performance of Gypsy on January 10, 2009, agitated at a man taking pictures with the use of flash, she stopped in the middle of Rose's Turn & loudly demanded that he be removed from the theatre. LuPone yelled from the stage: "You heard the announcement in the beginning, you heard the announcement at intermission! Who do you think you are?" After he was removed, LuPone restarted her number. The audience applauded.
In her memoir, LuPone riffs & rants. She can be merciless & lacerating, this is a woman who does not suffer fools gladly. I am a Broadway Baby & I love her. LuPone lives in NYC & South Carolina, with her husband- Matthew Johnston, who she met on the set of the TV film- LBJ, in which she played Lady Bird. They have a son & a bunch of dogs. LuPone turns 62 years old today.