ON THE RECORD: Patti LuPone's Far Away Places, Plus a Jerome Kern Revue and Porter/Coward Creation

By Steven Suskin
03 Mar 2013

Patti LuPone
Photo by Ethan Hill


Director Scott Wittman (of Hairspray), writer Jeffrey Richman, and musical director Joseph Thalken contrived an evening in which Patti could simply play Patti. The result was pure entertainment, with the star altogether dazzling; she was clearly at ease while giving her all. Far Away Places was the name of the act, and that's the theme: Patti's wanderlust as she travels from place to place, from job to job. (Adding a layer to this, they start the set with Patti's rendition of "Gypsy in My Soul," from the 1937 Mask & Wig Show at the University of Pennsylvania. Thalken's arrangement is patched with numerous musical quotes from the score of Gypsy, and pretty funny.)

LuPone clearly has Weill on her mind; the act seems to have been assembled around four of his numbers. Patti's "Pirate Jenny" is especially good. We have no need of seeing another new Threepenny Opera just now, but this is a riveting performance. She also stops in Paris for Piaf's "Hymn to Love." The singing is fine although they use a less effective English translation than the familiar one, "If You Love Me (Really Love Me)."

Wanderlust at its wildest is represented by "Come to the Supermarket in Old Peking." I never thought I needed again to hear this Cole Porter oddity — written for the 1957 TV production of "Aladdin" — but wait till you hear Patti do it! She sings it with attitude, which is picked up by Thalken and his five-piece band ("The Gypsy Drifters"). Every one of Patti's affectations is present, more or less slathered over Porter's quaint list song (which somehow winds up in K & E's "New York, New York"). Quite an intercontinental treat.

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