Patti LuPone: Far Away Places [Broadway Records]
Patti LuPone has been entertaining us, in one form or another, since she first turned up at the Harkness Theatre in 1975 as the "poor, tied-up darlin'" in the original Broadway production of The Robber Bridegroom. The highlights of her career are familiar: a missed-opportunity for stardom as the title character of The Baker's Wife, the David Merrick/Stephen Schwartz/Joseph Stein musical which folded on the road in 1976; full-fledged stardom in 1979 in the title role of the Andrew-Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice Evita; London stardom as Fantine, in the 1985 premiere production of Les Misérables; and later Broadway triumphs in two Merman-created roles, as Reno Sweeney in the 1987 Anything Goes and as Rose in the 2008 Gypsy.
Where there are ups there are downs, inevitably; in LuPone's case, the most severe was the Sunset Boulevard affair, wherein she created the role in London in 1993 but was disinvited from bringing it to Broadway. It all worked out fine, though, with the actress — after a long fight — reaching a royal settlement with Lord Lloyd Webber's money.
LuPone has remained unceasingly active, good times and bum times, and turned up in June 2012 as the inaugural act at the new nightclub 54 Below. This is the sparkling boîte in the basement of the Studio 54 building. LuPone turned out to be the perfect booking for the debut. 54 Below is a stunning room — designed by Broadway's John Lee Beatty, with Ken Billington on the lights — and LuPone was at her very best. That opening act was too good to be consigned to the limbo of pirated lap recordings, so Broadway Records saw fit to record and release it.
(At the same time, Broadway Records have allied with the 54 Below management to bring us more. Also available is Norbert Leo Butz: Memory and Mayhem, with Christiane Noll: Gifts and Andrea McArdle: 70s and Sunny to come. Let us cross our fingers that last week's indispensable act — a showcase of the work of Adam Guettel, with the composer assisted by Steven Pasquale and Whitney Bashor — will soon be on our disc players.)
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