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PATTI LUPONE – Leicester Square Theatre, London.

Patti LuPoneThere is very little left to be said about Patti LuPone. Tony and Olivier award winner, indomitable Broadway icon, star of the small and silver screen, Miss LuPone has the very rare honour of being known as a ‘Living Legend’, and rightly so.             

Opening her surprisingly lengthy set with ‘Everything’s Coming Up Roses’ from her Tony-winning turn in Stephen Sondheim’s Gypsy: A Musical Fable, LuPone starts as she means to go on with the vocal power, charisma and relaxed youthfulness that belies her age. Following an interview-segueing-into-song format, our exuberant star is led at pace through the evening by her interviewer-cum-pianist-cum-warm-up act Seth Rudetsky. His fast talking New Yorker style perfectly complements Patti’s laidback approach, creating a warm and friendly atmosphere for everyone in the Theatre. We immediately feel welcomed in to share this intimate experience with a true stage force.

Covering tunes from every section of her illustrious career, from the sublime in Les Misérables, to the obscure in The Robber Bridegroom via her most recent role in Women on the Verge of a Mental Breakdown, there is something for everyone. It is in the huge belting numbers where she reminds you why she is so revered amongst musical theatre circles. Every single song is delivered with an inimitable mix of power, depth and sincerity. Each number tells a story, it is never just singing for singing’s sake. She is very clearly not only an outstanding vocalist but an outstanding actress.

The conversational interludes of the evening are hilarious. She is so used these evenings that she always comes across as open, warm and extremely down to earth.  She discusses her start in the business as a ‘serious actor’ and her negative feelings towards musicals, her well-documented issues with Andrew Lloyd Webber throughout Evita and beyond, her fears upon joining the already rehearsed Les Mis original cast at the RSC and the infamous, “Stop taking pictures” incident.

The most endearing thing about LuPone is that she comes across as genuinely overwhelmed with the adulation she receives. Of course she knows she is a complete force of nature, but that never turns into cockiness. She doesn’t appear to be the diva that she is often made out to be, at least not this evening.

Patti LuPone is a name synonymous with Broadway. Her current show, in which often she has to put her glasses on and read the sheet music as she cannot remember the lyrics, is anything but. It is a funny, warm, charming portrait of a woman who has had an incredible career and shows no signs of her God-given talent fading. I can now also say I have sang with Patti LuPone, as the audience becomes the chorus during a wonderful sing-along version of ‘It’s a Fine Life’ from Oliver! There’s one for the CV!

Patti Lupone. Three standing ovations. Two encores. One genuine legend. Catch her while you can.

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Reviewed 16/06/13
 
By Tom Norman
@Tom_Norm
 
18th – 23rd June 2013
Leicester Square Theatre, London, WC2.

 

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