Could War Paint Be Patti LuPone’s Last Musical?

Seth Rudetsky   Could War Paint Be Patti LuPone’s Last Musical?
 
This week in the life of Seth Rudetsky, Seth recounts the chat he had with LuPone about ending her musical career with War Paint and what to expect from their upcoming concert together, Deconstructing Patti!
War_Paint_Broadway_Production_Photo_2017_[0498]_Patti LuPone in WAR PAINT, Photo by Joan Marcus, 2017_HR.jpg
Patti LuPone Joan Marcus

T-minus less than one week til my show with Patti LuPone on Broadway! On Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 14) Patti LuPone will do her matinee of War Paint and then at 8PM she’ll join me onstage at the Nederlander Theatre for a Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS benefit called Deconstructing Patti. I’ve done shows like this with her in many places like Provincetown, New Orleans, Ft. Lauderdale, somewhere off of the Russian coast (on the Playbill Cruise!) and in London. The fun part is...they’re always different! Here’s a sample of what we did in Provincetown:

Patti doesn’t like to know what I’m going to ask her to sing. And if it’s something she’s sung before but doesn’t quite remember, I just print out the lyrics and hand them to her onstage! At one show, I was talking to her about the time she played Nancy in the 1984 Broadway revival of Oliver! which was not a good experience for her. She told me that after doing the run of that show, she learned to ask that song be put in her key. Why? Because the director of the revival was the same director of the original and he made her sing everything in Nancy’s original key. If you don’t know, the original Nancy, Georgia Brown, had an old-school music hall throaty alto, yet Patti is one of the highest belters on Broadway. Her Nancy songs should have been at least up a step. Plus, Patti told me that the director made her do some bizarre blocking, like awkwardly backing up during the last part of “As Long As He Needs Me,” which didn’t allow her to remain onstage at the end to get her applause—well, not only not be onstage after her song, but exit while she was singing her last note. I thought that recollection was a comedic exaggeration told through the haze of 30 years of memories, but I recently found a clip of it and she literally backs up the stairs and then disappears while singing the last note of the song. What the H!?!?!? WATCH!

Seth Rudetsky_Onstage and Backstage 5.8.17
Seth and Patti in my post-DISASTER! make-up

I just interviewed Patti for my SiriusXM show Seth Speaks while she was in her dressing room getting ready for War Paint. I told her how fabulous I thought she is in War Paint and she told me it’s going to be her last musical! LAST MUSICAL!?!?! I thought for sure she was joking, but she told me that she knows she’ll never get another leading role again (says who!?!?) and she laughed and said that she doesn’t want her name to be “in a box.” Meaning, she doesn’t want to be listed on the poster in a featured box that says “And Patti LuPone.” Her voice is in the exact same shape is was in during Evita and I can’t believe she’ll never have a starring role again. I won’t believe she’ll never have a starring role again! I’m going to use the technique I’ve seen many people who’ve been traumatized use and pretend the conversation never happened. Ah! I feel much better!

Before my show with Patti this coming Sunday, I’m heading to L.A. to do two shows with Audra McDonald at the Wallis. As far as I know we are sold out, but you can get thee on the waiting list. Here’s a li’l deconstruction I did of Audra…with some George Hearn and Robert Weede from The Most Happy Fella thrown in. Yes, they all connect!

Speaking of L.A., we are doing Concert For America there in a little more than two weeks! The concert is Wednesday, May 24 at 7PM and we just added more amazing peeps to the show! Watch this newest video to find out who:

And speaking of Chita (who’s performing in the L.A. Concert for America), we have a gig coming up at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia June 3. Tickets here! I was just asking her about Bye Bye Birdie during our last show and about Dick Van Dyke’s understudy who was….Charles Nelson Riley! I was wondering if he ever went on and Chita said that he certainly did. However, he was really nervous the first time. As a matter of fact, during his first big number, “Put On A Happy Face,” he went into a little bit of a panic and forgot some lyrics. What lyrics, you ask? Literally the title of the song! Instead of singing:
“Grey skies are gonna clear up

Seth Rudetsky_Onstage and Backstage 5.8.17

Put on a happy face!”

He sang:
“Grey skies are gonna clear up
Doo doo do sa vu day!

Chita thought it was so hilarious that, from then on, she never called him Charles again. His nickname was always “Sa vu”!

Charles Nelson Riley was a hilarious performer (and a very accomplished director) and he did his own solo number at the 1974 Tony Awards. And Charles wasn’t even in a show at the time! He simply did his own act for more than eight minutes! Amazing! Watch it here!

Nowadays, song performances from shows are very truncated to fit into a small amount of screen time. Back then, Broadway shows did enormous medleys from shows that lasted three times the length of current performances. (See Annie that did three-and-a-half numbers!)

Well, tonight I’m doing to the Actors Fund Gala honoring amazing people like Hal Prince (speaking of Evita!). Last-minute tickets and info here! And then on Tuesday we’re seeing Chita Rivera’s opening night for her two week run at the Café Carlyle (tickets here).

Peace out!

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