Tony Winner Patti LuPone Responds to Times Blog

By Andrew Gans
23 Jun 2009

Patti LuPone
Patti LuPone
Photo by Ethan Hill

Olivier and two-time Tony Award winner Patti LuPone has responded to a posting in the New York Times Artsbeat blog about her recent performance at the Orleans Casino & Hotel in Las Vegas, NV.

The blog, penned by Dave Itzkoff, concerned one of the two debut performances of LuPone's newest concert act, The Gypsy in My Soul, at the Nevada venue.

LuPone, the blog stated, "stopped in midperformance on Sunday night at the Orleans hotel when she saw an audience member using an electronic device. . . . [LuPone] threatened to have the fan thrown out if it happened again, before she resumed singing 'Don't Cry for Me, Argentina.'"

In response to the posting, LuPone sent Times blogger Itzkoff the following note:



"Your story about my stopping my concert in Las Vegas on the New York Times ArtsBeat blog was forwarded to me.

I found the tone of your report very snide and feel compelled to write you to ask – what do expect me, or any performer for that matter, to do?

Do we allow our rights to be violated (photography, filming and audio taping of performances is illegal) or tolerate rudeness by members of the audience who feel they have the right to sit in a dark theater, texting or checking their e-mail while the light from their screens distract both performers and the audience alike? Or, should I stand up for my rights as a performer as well as the audiences I perform for?

And do you think I'm alone in this? Ask any performer on Broadway right now about their level of frustration with this issue. Ask the actor in Hair who recently grabbed a camera out of an audience member’s hand and threw it across the stage. Or ask the two Queens in Mary Stuart (Harriet Walter and Janet McTeer) how they react to it.

I find it telling that my story elicited 47 comments from your readers while a few other stories on the blog elicited a handful, with many getting 0 comments. It certainly touched a chord with people, almost all of whom sounded like audience members, who share in my frustration with what threatens to become standard behavior if no one speaks out and takes action against it.

This has been going on in my career for 30 years since I starred in Evita, and, you're surprised I stop shows now?

"Sincerely,
Patti LuPone"

On the day preceding the closing of LuPone's award-winning run in the recent revival of Gypsy, the acclaimed actress stopped the show during "Rose's Turn" to admonish an audience member who, despite a notice in the program and announcements made over the theatre's loudspeaker, took photos of LuPone during her performance of that Stephen Sondheim-Jule Styne classic. "That [reaction]," LuPone previously told Playbill.com, "was a year-long, lifelong battle with people that have total disregard for their fellow audience members. . . . [and] I don't want to diminish the effect that it could have on the actor onstage, whoever [the actor may be]."

"So my objections are, 'Don't take my image without my permission.' This is theatre. It is being performed for the audience, for them, in the moment. That needs to be respected. And it is illegal. It used to be for the danger — I think that's pretty much why all of it started. But it is also our image, and it is an illegal control of our image."

The award-winning actress is scheduled to bring her Gypsy in My Soul act to The Music Box at The Borgata Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ, Aug. 15; the University of North Carolina's Aycock Auditorium in Greensboro, NC, Sept. 26; the Tennessee Williams Theatre in Key West, FL, Feb. 17, 2010; and the Music Center at Strathmore in N. Bethesda, MD, April 24.

For her performance as Rose in the recent revival of Gypsy at the St. James Theatre, Patti LuPone won the Tony Award, the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award and the Drama League's Distinguished Performance Award. A Tony Award winner for her work in Evita, LuPone also earned an Olivier Award for her performances in the West End productions of Les 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 and a Tony nomination for her performance in the recent revival of that Sondheim work. She was seen in the Kennedy Center's staging of Marc Blitzstein's Regina and joined Audra McDonald for Los Angeles Opera's production of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. She was also seen as Rose in a Ravinia Festival concert run of Gypsy. Her screen and recording credits are numerous.

For more information visit www.pattilupone.net.