True story: When I was out of work briefly in 2009, I sent out an email to all the industry types I knew and asked if they needed any freelance help. A producer I’d met in college wrote back and said yes. She also lived quite close to me on the UWS. It was kismet! What was she so busy working on? Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin’s upcoming concert tour. I ran minor errands (like returning Lupone’s shoes, etc) but then one day the producer called and asked if I could pick something up from her apartment and hop on a train out to Stony Brook, on Long Island, to the Staller Center and help with tech rehearsal for their first concert. Well, yes, of course. I grew up in Stony Brook so it was easy to get out there. I was picked up at the train station and driven to the Staller Center where I ran minor errands again and then stood in for Ms. Lupone when they tech’ed songs like “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.” I even got to throw my arms up.
This, of course, isn’t in Lupone’s memoir but it’s my first memory when I think of her. I never did get to meet her unfortunately though because I stupidly didn’t stay for the concert (I had a date, or something stupid that night). I saw her performances in both the 2009 revival of Gypsy and Sweeney Todd (though I hated that revival), though I never really garnered an appreciation for her until reading her memoir (pictured above).
It took me several chapters to get in to but after her work with The Acting Company, I started to become more interested in what she had to say. Don’t get me wrong, the fact that she was part of the first drama class at Juilliard is great, but it wasn’t incredibly fascinating to read about. I had no idea she was such a “working actor,” as it’s often called, and I also had no idea she’d been screwed over so many times by Andrew Lloyd Webber, among others. If ALW hadn’t been conniving, I would have seen Lupone as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard in 1994 instead of Glenn Close. I loved reading about her method when she got into it, and her immense appreciation for the theatre as an artist.
I’d recommend this book for any theatre person. Click here to watch a video of Lupone reading a passage from the book at Borders in Columbus Circle last year when she began her book tour. Next time I have the opportunity to see Lupone perform, I’m pretty sure I’ll be paying better attention when she’s onstage.