Will Patti LuPone Star in Ravinia Gypsy?

News   Will Patti LuPone Star in Ravinia Gypsy? For the past five years Tony and Olivier Award winner Patti LuPone has starred in the Ravinia Festival productions of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Sunday in the Park with George, Passion and, most recently, Anyone Can Whistle.
Patti LuPone
Patti LuPone

The mountings of the musicals were part of the Chicago festival's Sondheim at 75 series, a five-year salute to the works of the famed composer that culminated this summer during the year of Sondheim's 75th birthday.

There had been talk about continuing the series after the 2005 season. In fact, Welz Kauffman, president and CEO of Ravinia, told the Chicago Sun-Times earlier in the year, "We've asked Steve about extending the project, and he was willing. This series has been a wonderful success for us, adding a new flavor to the mix for the traditional Ravinia audience."

The Sun-Times reported Sept. 2 that director Lonny Price has another Sondheim musical he would like to direct at the Ravinia. "Maybe Gypsy," Price told the Chicago paper, "with Patti [LuPone] as Mama Rose." Gypsy, of course, features lyrics by Sondheim with music by Jule Styne and a book by Arthur Laurents.

Gypsy bowed on Broadway in May 1959 at the Broadway Theatre, playing 702 performances before closing at the Imperial Theatre, where it later transferred, on March 25, 1961. Ethel Merman starred as the infamous Momma Rose. Subsequent revivals featured Angela Lansbury and Tyne Daly in the lead role. The most recent production — under the direction of Sam Mendes — cast Bernadette Peters as Rose. That mounting earned four 2003 Tony Award nominations, including those for star Peters (Best Actress in a Musical), co-stars John Dossett and Tammy Blanchard (Best Featured Actor/Actress in a Musical) and Best Revival of a Musical.

A Tony Award winner for her work in Evita, Patti LuPone also earned an Olivier Award for her performances in the West End productions of Lés Misérables and The Cradle Will Rock. Her other theatrical credits include Sunset Boulevard, Anything Goes, Oliver!, Working, The Old Neighborhood, Master Class and Pal Joey. LuPone also headlined two solo Broadway concerts, Patti LuPone On Broadway and Matters of the Heart, and received glowing notices for her performance as Mrs. Lovett in the Lincoln Center concert version of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. LuPone is set to return to Broadway this fall in the revival of Sweeney Todd, playing opposite Michael Cerveris. That production begins previews Oct. 3 at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre with an official opening scheduled for Nov. 3.

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