Concert Review: Patti Lupone Doesn’t Monkey Around With Her Jaw-Dropping Talent

Kevin Taft reviews a Patti Lupone concert that shows why she is one of the most powerful stage actors and vocalists ever.
User Rating: 8

The quintessential Broadway diva Patti Lupone graced Southern California with her larger-than-life presence and undeniable talent on Saturday, giving theater lovers the night of a lifetime.

The recent (3rd time) Tony Award winner for the reimagined production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Company,” Lupone famously gave back her Equity card to “no longer [be] part of the circus” she feels the Union is. So, it’s no surprise that not only is her show entitled “Don’t Monkey with Broadway,” but the title number reflects many of the changes that have occurred to the Great White Way.

Originally a Cole Porter tune, Lupone cleverly adds her own two cents in between verses with such nuggets as “I’ve witnessed 42nd street become the Disney walk of shame.” This wit and banter is fluid throughout the 90-minute show in which Lupone travels along her Broadway inspirations, into her arrival on the Broadway stages, and further into her career.

The first Act delves into her history with the songs that inspired her, such as Sondheim’s “Anyone Can Whistle.” She discusses her musical debut as the lead in a 1976 musical called “The Baker’s Wife” with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. She sings one of her signature songs, “Meadowlark,” after admitting that the show was a colossal flop and opening night consisted of an audience of 25.

She continued through a history of shows she loves and roles she was made famous for. And, of course, “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” was one of the highlights of the evening.

For the show’s second half, Lupone arrived on stage in a full tux and spent much of the remaining 45 minutes belting show tunes traditionally sung by men. This included a few from “Company” like “Another Hundred People” and “Being Alive, not to mention “Ladies Who Lunch.”

Sticking with Sondheim, she also did a trio of songs from “West Side Story.” It didn’t matter whether it was a male or female character singing or a duet; Ms. Lupone performed them all!

With just a piano to accompany her, all focus was on Lupone’s rich, powerful voice. Her banter was not only informative, but her stories were lighthearted and fun.

Much has been said about Ms. Lupone’s onstage behavior toward audience members with their phones not on silent or lighting up their faces—all valid complaints. But because of that, she has gotten a bit of a reputation – deserved or not. But none of that was on display here. She was charming and funny and continuously reminded us why she is one of the most powerful stage actors and vocalists ever.

To be in her presence was to be witness to history. And with that, we don’t monkey around.

Written by
Kevin is a long-time movie buff with a wide variety of tastes and fixations in the film world. He cried the moment Benji appeared onscreen in “Benji,” and it took him about four times to finally watch “The Exorcist” (at age 24) without passing out. “Star Wars: A New Hope” was the movie that changed everything and when his obsession with films and filmmaking began. A screenwriter himself (one long-ago horror script sale to New Line remains on a shelf), his first film "Two Tickets to Paradise" that he co-wrote premiered in June 2022 on Hallmark. He is currently working on another for the iconic brand.

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