In March 2009, during my two month stay in the world of the unemployed, I would periodically send emails to people in the business that I knew telling them that yes, I was still unemployed and if they knew of anything to please feel free to send my resume to everyone and anyone. Well, one producer who I’d been introduced to in college replied and said she was busy getting ready to go on tour with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin, and she needed help with errands and such before the tour took off. The first stop on the tour was the Staller Center in my hometown of Stony Brook, so when she emailed me and told me that she wanted to know if I could take the train out with two small set pieces and a pair of shoes for Ms. LuPone, as well as stay for the tech, I said yes right away. I ended up staying for the tech and standing in for LuPone when they tech’d her songs, including Don’t Cry For Me Argentina (and yes, I threw my arms up).
I’ve seen LuPone in Sweeney Todd, Gypsy and mostly recently Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. I’m not a die-hard fan of hers, but I’ve always admired her for ability to command a stage, call out audience members for taking pictures, and the fact that she has no problem telling it like it is. I had intended to wait until her book, Patti LuPone: A Memoir, was published in paperback (I hate hardcover books), but when I heard she was doing a signing and Q&A at the Columbus Circle Borders tonight, I gave in, purchased the book, and stood by as she commanded the crowd of 100 which was packed in within the confines of a tiny corner of Borders.
She was in a chipper mood, thanked everyone for coming and read three passages to start – one about her Northport High School music teacher (she mentioned NYSSMA and All-State, two things I had a love/hate relationship with in high school), one about her Evita call-back, and the last was about making it onstage, on time by thirty minutes, for her 8pm curtain in the West End production of Sunset Boulevard after almost not making it onto a plane earlier that day (video can be found here!).
She talked about the commitment, routine, and discipline it takes to be a working actor in the business and that saying “I want to on Broadway” just isn’t enough. A British audience member told her there’s an American Idol-esque show on in England for theatre talent and asked if she thought it was a good idea. She said no, and ranted for a few minutes about how much she detests reality TV saying, “I was watching the Kardashians and trying to figure out WHY! WHY was I sitting here watching this? Why did I care? Who gives a shit?! Why don’t people turn it off? Well, I did.”
She was elegant, honest, and well-spoken. Everything I would expect out of one of the industry’s leading divas. Pick up a copy of Patti Lupone: A Memoir, here.