10 Questions for Patti LuPone

Posted on 17 Jan 2008 at 6:34pm
By Arnold Wayne Jones – Staff Writer


After appearances by Bernadette Peters and Judy Kaye in Dallas this week, the Broadway legend trifecta is finally completed on Tuesday when Patti LuPone performs in her one-woman concert show “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda.”

Before arriving in Dallas, LuPone chatted about why she likes singing the man’s role, her favorite parts and what it would take to get her to do a national tour.

“Patti LuPone: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda,” presented by TITAS. McFarlin Auditorium on the SMU campus. Jan. 22 at 8 p.m. $20-$100. 214-528-5576.

Dallas Voice: For your concert, “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda,” you perform a lot of songs from shows you’ve never had a chance to do. It kind of sounds similar to a show in Dallas called “Broadway Our Way,” where the boys sing songs written for girls and vice versa

Patti LuPone: My show is totally like that! This is a chronological history of my life in musical theater and how I got there. And the leads don’t always get the best songs the second bananas often have more fun.

There’s a section of men’s songs I perform. When I was growing up, the men [in musicals] had so many more interesting songs than the women. I mean, which would you prefer to sing: “When I Marry Mr. Snow” or “Soliloquy” [both from "Carousel"]?

Gay guys have no problem, even as kids, singing a lyric like, “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy” without feeling compelled to change the line to “Gal.” Do you “straighten up” lyrics like that when you perform the men’s songs or keep the quasi-homoerotic undertones in place?

It’s not even being homoerotic I’m playing the man’s part. I sing it as a man. I’m not gonna change the songs.

What are some of the songs you’ll be performing in Dallas?
You’ll have to see it! I actually have to think about the show I’m doing another right now with Mandy Patinkin [her co-star from "Evita"]. That show seems to be the most popular because it’s jammed-packed with show tunes.

Then what are some of the men’s song you adore that you won’t be doing in your concert?
I was gonna put “There Is Nothing Like a Dame” in my show but decided it didn’t sound right as a solo. I’d love to do “All I Need is the Girl,” Tulsa’s song from “Gypsy,” and “Watching All the Girls Go By,” which is from “The Most Happy Fella.” Oh! And “I’m the Most Happy Fella.” Some of those songs had the greatest melody and wonderful sentiment in the lyrics.
There are some very beautiful ballads for men. It’s all about the characters you ask would that have been an interesting character to play? Why do women gravitate to Hamlet? Because there isn’t a female equivalent in Shakespeare, so if you have the opportunity to do it, you do it.

Of the roles you have performed, which are your favorites?
I like the roles left of center, quite frankly. I’m happy being a comedian and that’s my forte, but I’ve always walked the edge. Pushing the envelope is where I stand. I was thrilled for [the successes of] “Rent” and “Urinetown” and “Avenue Q” I would pick those above the big musicals any day. They move the Broadway musical forward, which is a good thing.
But [Mrs. Lovett in] “Sweeney” is amazing. John Doyle, the director, did an incredible job and Michael [Cerveris, who played Sweeney] is just unbelievable to work with onstage. But it was harrowing. You go through that bloodletting eight times a week, it takes a lot out of you. But it was well-rehearsed. The key to any good production is a director who knows how to rehearse the actors. It really is simply drills; it gets in your body.

You’re opening on Broadway in “Gypsy” in a few weeks. Is that exciting for you? Did you think it would ever happen?
Yes, finally! God bless the producers it took perseverance. We’ll see what happens; I hope it runs.

You originated a role in Jake Heggie’s opera “To Hell and Back.” If you didn’t know, he’s just been commissioned by the Dallas Opera to write a world premiere for them, “Moby-Dick.”
I know, I know! He’s wonderful and wonderfully talented. He’s just an American voice and I wish him only the greatest success he’s a homegrown American genius.

You’ve done musicals, straight plays, concerts any preference?
I have no preference I’m lucky to be working. I like it all. It keeps everything fresh. But after a year in a show, it’s enough. I don’t blame Cameron McIntosh for firing those lifers from “Les Miz” after a year, it’s punching the clock. The audience isn’t getting what they deserve.

Is there any venue you haven’t performed in that is really attractive to you as an entertainer?
I would love to sing at the Met and the Apollo Theater and the old Filmore East when it was still around those were the three houses I wanted to play as a kid.

Have you ever done a national tour of musical or would you consider doing one?
No, never have. I always thought Broadway is the ultimate why would I go out on the road? Now I have a son in school and I wouldn’t go on the road until he graduates anyway. But I like touring. I like seeing the country, but it’s uprooting. I’m not young anymore. But I heard about someone who had a packer, a person who was flown in and packed for them, went to where they were going and then unpacked them. That’s fabulous I want that in my next contract.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 18, 2008

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