Honorary Texan Patti LuPone: Live & Personal Soon In Houston and Richardson

March 18, 2024
7 mins read
Patti Lupone. Photography by Rahav Segev / Photopass.com

“You have to live like an athlete and a monk if you’re doing a musical,” shares Patti LuPone, whom we are naming an Honorary Texan…thanks to her verve, bravado, and colossal success. Appearing soon in Houston and Richardson, LuPone reveals here how she has conquered Broadway, and soon, a Marvel film in Hollywood. Our Houstonian pop culture chronicler Jenny Block gets up close and personal in a rare interview with LuPone that will have you making immediate plans to see her show.

Photography by Douglas Friedman and Rahav Segev

If you want a real challenge, try to sum up the truly astounding career of stage and screen star Patti LuPone. Just to pick a few cherries––she’s received critical acclaim for her performance opposite Joaquin Phoenix in the film Beau is Afraid, and she is a three-time Tony Award winner for her performances as Joanne in Company, Madame Rose in the most recent Broadway revival of Gypsy, and the title role in the original Broadway production of Evita.

Her recent NY stage appearances also include War Paint, Shows for Days, The Seven Deadly Sins, and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. She is a graduate of the first class of the Drama Division of New York’s Juilliard School and a founding member of John Houseman’s The Acting Company, with subsequent New York credits, including, Pal Joey, The Cradle Will Rock, and Oliver.

In London, where she most recently won her second Olivier Award for her performance as Joanne in Company, she recreated her Broadway performance of Maria Callas in Master Class,created the role of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard (Olivier Award nomination), and won her first Olivier Award for her performances as Fantine in the original production of Les Misérables and the Acting Company production of The Cradle Will Rock

Her film credits include Last Christmas, Driving Miss Daisy, and Witness. Her television credits include Penny Dreadful, American Horror Story: Coven, 30 Rock, and, of course, the ABC classic, Life Goes On. Her recordings include, Don’t Monkey with Broadway, Far Away Places, and The Lady with the Torch, not to mention several original cast recordings including, most recently: Gypsy, Sweeney Todd, and the West End production of Company. And she is the author of the NY Times best-selling memoir Patti LuPone: A Memoir.

And as if Lupone hadn’t already done it all in the business of show, she has now joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe, playing Lili Calderu in the upcoming film, Agatha. “That’s going to premiere in September and run ’till Halloween, and we’re a bunch of witches,” LuPone said. “It’s a great cast, a great cast of women.”

Patti LuPone. Photography by Douglas Friedman

Curated Texan caught up with LuPone in advance of her show Patti LuPone: A Life in Notes. Sarofim Hall at the Hobby Center in Houston, TX on March 21 and to the Eisemann Center in Richardson, Texas on March 23 is also where you find out more about the upcoming performances and the remarkable woman behind it.

Curated Texan: We are so excited to have you in Texas. What can audiences expect from your latest show?

Patti LuPone: I think it’s the most personal show I’ve done. It’s basically about my experience of music growing up in America. I’m a child of the 1950s and 1960s. So, rock and roll and I grew up together. And not that the whole show is rock and roll, but that was pretty much my first source of music besides what my mom listened to which was opera and Broadway musicals, and what my dad listened to which was jazz.

I always knew from a very young age that I had a voice, and I knew I’d end up on the stage in some capacity. But, as a kid, forging my own identity, rock and roll was my generation’s musical identity. And so, the show is basically about the music that impacted me growing up on Long Island in New York in the fifties and sixties through the 1970s, 1980s,1990s, and 2000s…the moving to New York City, being on Broadway, going to Julliard.

The show’s basically about personal touchstones in my life and recalling different decades and the music that affected me in those different decades. There’s a 1980s section, I don’t want to blow it, there were a lot of things going on in the decade in this country. 

And, so, it’s a reflection of the music that affected me as I grew up in this country. 

CT: How old were you, do you think, when you first thought I am going to be a singer on the stage

PL: I was very young. I mean, I started dancing as an extracurricular activity at the elementary school I was going to and fell in love with the audience at four years old and never looked back. I knew that’s where I belonged.

CT: And were your parents just totally like, oh yes, let us drop you off? 

PL: Oh, no. My dad was the principal at the elementary school, and my mom enrolled me in this extracurricular activity program because she was the wife of the principal. But my brother Bobby and I both fell in love with it, and they were taken aback that their two kids wanted to be in show business.

My dad wanted his kids to be teachers. My mother was a housewife. It was sort of alien to them, even though they loved music. I remember there was always music in the house, and it was a very gregarious Italian family on both my dad’s side and my mother’s side. We were not a show business family. Just my brother and I were. 

CT: This might be unfair to ask of someone with your background, but if you had to pick Broadway versus doing cabaret-style shows like this versus TV versus film, is there one thing where you’re like, okay, if I had to pick one, this would be it? Or does your love just spread far and wide to all of it? 

PL: Oh, I love it all. But the stage is the actor’s medium. You don’t have to deal with an editor on film, right? Because you can turn in a performance and then an editor could completely change it and you have no power. But I do actually love making television, being on film.

Broadway is eight shows a week. There’s an expression: “Broadway ain’t for sissies,” and that’s the truth. It’s a muscle and you have to live like an athlete and a monk if you’re doing a musical. But I love that muscle. I love that discipline. I know where I have to be at eight o’clock every night. I love that discipline, and I love the fact that it’s between the actor and the audience with nothing in between. But at the same time, I love doing film. 

Patti LuPone. Photography by Douglas Friedman

CT: Are there projects that you sort of think, I’ve still got some Broadway and film left in me? Is there a show you’d still like to do or a film? Or you are like, you know what, if they call, I’ll say yes. 

PL: Yes. I mean, that’s as simple as that can be. If they called, I would say, yes, what am I going to do if I don’t do this? This has been my life. 

CT: Some people would say, I’ve done it all. I’d look back and you could say, I’m just going to rest now. But you don’t seem like the resting kind of gal. 

PL: I wouldn’t know what to do with my life. I just wouldn’t know what to do. I’ve always worked, so it’s hard not to.

CT: What would your 12-year-old self think of where you are now?

PL: It was destined. It’s not an ego thing. It’s sort of taking responsibility for the talent. And I was led. It’s not like I was determined to get there. I was led. You will end up on the Broadway musical stage. It was all divine.

CT: Do you have any words of wisdom for young people who want to be in the business? 

PL: Well, it’s difficult because it’s a whole different game now. Nobody wants to work for it. Nobody wants to put the work in. They just want stardom, or they’re too emotional. I can’t give them any advice because they’re not taking any advice. They don’t want any advice. All they want is the easy road, and this is not a profession where there’s anything easy about it.

Those of us who are the elders in the business have had experience with actors or kids who are just not prepared or don’t want to work. And work is part of the joy. Work is part of the journey. It’s a craft. So, the craft has to be honed and that should be part of the joy of doing it and nobody wants to do that anymore. 

CT: Like TikTok as the new audition tape?

PL: It is. If you have a large following, you will get hired before an actor. But then actors in this country have always been third-class citizens, like all art in this country. When was the last time you heard art and culture? The words art and culture? I could consider ourselves essential workers. 

CT: Speaking of essential workers, did you do any special projects or anything to help yourself get through Covid? When we were all stuck without audiences? 

PL: Oh my God. I became more famous on Zoom than I was ever famous before. We were all on Zoom. We were just all on Zoom doing plays for companies, and I did a basement series of basement tapes just by accident.

CT: By accident?

PL: Yes, because I did something for Rosie (O’Donnell). She was doing something for the actor’s fund. Everybody did tons of videos for the Actor’s Fund or various theater companies going out of business.

Patti LuPone. Photography by Douglas Friedman

I had to sing something, but I didn’t have my accompanist. My piano was downstairs. So, I went downstairs to hit the note and people saw the pinball machine behind me, and they wanted to know what my basement looked like. So, there were three or four tapes of the basement. The basement tapes. Oh my God. I’m one of those people who enjoyed the lock down I was with my family. I saw the changing of the seasons and the fullness of time, and I had time to reflect. I had time to slow down. I had time to stop. I was running out of money. That was always scary. That was always the scariest part of all of it, but I appreciated the life I was given. 

CT: That’s beautiful. 

PL: It was. I miss it. I went to L.A. with my kid, and L.A. was never better. No traffic, and my son and I would just book Covid tests all over L.A. once a week so that we could also be tourists and see different parts of LA. Oh my gosh, we’ve never seen this part of LA. We’ve never seen Ventura County. It was brilliant.   

CT: Thank you so much for your time and we’re excited to see what the next performances…and as chapters unfold for you, Patti.

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