DIVA TALK: The Reviews Are In for Patti

DIVA TALK: The Reviews Are In for Patti PATTI LuPONE
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PATTI LuPONE

Patti LuPone officially opened last night (July 25, 1996) in the Tony Award-winning play Master Class. I had the pleasure of seeing her performance and am glad to report that she is wonderful, at times breathtaking, in the role. I had loved the play and the performances when I saw it months ago with Zoe Caldwell, and I was equally enthralled with the show last night.

If you have only seen LuPone live in musical roles (as is my case), you will be quite surprised and delighted by her performance in Terrence McNally's

Master Class.

I will warn you: It is a different LuPone who imperiously walks onstage to begin the master classes not the same lady who thrilled us in Evita, delighted us in Anything Goes and moved us in Sunset Boulevard. This is a woman seemingly in complete control, a fiery creature but one who's inner struggles nearly overtake this almost stoic facade.

LuPone has the audience in the palm of her hand as soon as she makes her grand entrance at one moment the audience is roaring with laughter as she throws barbs at her students, and later there is dead silence as Callas (LuPone) re-creates her triumph at La Scala or her brutal relationship with Onassis.

Here are few reviews that I thought you might be interested in:

Clive Barnes in New York Post:

"It is a lonesome, and perhaps awesome, trail treading in the footprints of legends but for Patti LuPone it seems to be a breeze developing into a hurricane. Enough of the mixed metaphors. LuPone, who has taken over the role of that fantastic 20th-century operatic diva Maria Callas from her fantastic Tony Award-winning predecessor Zoe Caldwell is, in one word, terrific, or in two words, very terrific.

. . .What is freshly impressive about the play itself is the manner in which LuPone has been able to create a new Callas, subtly but definably different, from the original Caldwell/Callas.

LuPone, at times, not only looks quite extraordinarily like Callas, but she is also almost exactly the same age as Callas was when she gave these historic master classes.

The LuPone/Callas is altogether more edgy, more bitter than was Caldwell's. The scorn she heaps on her pupils is tougher than before, and her fury at her dismissal by Onassis far more intense.

To an extent, I suppose, Caldwell addressed her performance to showing Callas the artist, whereas LuPone, perhaps no utter stranger to rejection herself, with teeth bared, claws unsheathed, is more intent on revealing Callas the woman."

Howard Kissel in Daily News:

"With Patti LuPone as Callas, the play is still wonderfully funny and expectedly dramatic. LuPone is a powerful stage presence, and there is something intensely theatrical simply about the way she occasionally displays her elegantly sculpted profile or the way intelligence and humor radiate from her eyes. LuPone is at her best when she interacts with her three students ("victims," she only half-jokingly calls them), the nervous accompanist and the resentful stagehand.

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