Broadway

Patti LuPone

Patti LuPone in 2010

Known for her sheer intensity, bold stage presence, and unmistakable Broadway belt, Patti LuPone is one of Broadway’s most revered divas. She is volatile onstage and off stage, and quickly takes the audiences to a world where drama is the norm.

Patti LuPone made her Broadway debut in 1973 and has been shining ever since. She has done occasional plays, starred in television and movies, but her illustrious career glowed the brightest in musical theater. She received Tony Awards for her roles in Evita and Gypsy and five additional nominations for Broadway musicals. She also won two Grammy Awards and two Olivier Awards, and she has been an American Theater Hall of Fame inductee. Patti LuPone is a living legend when it comes to Broadway.

Early Life

Patti Anne LuPone (April 21, 1949) was born in Northport, New York, in Long Island. She is the daughter of a library administrator Angela Louise, and a school administrator and teacher Orlando Joseph LuPone. She was part of the first graduating class of Julliard’s famed Drama Division (1968-1972). She graduated from Julliard with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

Upon graduation, she joined The Acting Company, a national touring repertory troupe that was founded by actor and producer John Houseman. She spent four years there with fellow graduates Kevin Kline and David Ogden Stiers. During her stint at The Acting Company, she appeared in many of their productions before she started working on Broadway.

Theater Career

After working with the Acting Company, LuPone made her first Broadway debut in The Three Sisters in 1973. She then starred in The Robber Bridegroom in 1975 and received her first Tony Award nomination. In 1976, LuPone was hired as a replacement to play Genevieve in a pre-Broadway production of The Baker’s Wife.

LuPone became a frequent collaborator with David Mamet, appearing in his plays The WoodsThe Blue HourThe Water Engine, and All Men are Whores in 1978; and Edmond and The Old Neighborhood in 1997. LuPone gained positive reviews from newspapers on her stints. In 1978, she starred in a Broadway musical adaptation of Studs Terkel’s Working, which ran for only 24 performances.

LuPone starred in the original Broadway production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita in 1979, which is one of her theater career highlights. LuPone was hailed by critics and won her first Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. Her passionate performance as Eva Peron catapulted her to stardom and gave her signature song, “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.”

In 1983, LuPone reunited with the alumni of The Acting Company for an off-Broadway revival of Marc Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock at the American Place Theater. They toured the United States and even played in London’s West End for this production.

When the show’s run ended, LuPone stayed in London to star in the role of Fantine in the original London production of Les Misérables by Cameron Mackintosh in 1985. Before that, LuPone has already worked for Mackintosh in a Broadway revival of Oliver! in 1984. For her work in both Les Misérables and The Cradle Will Rock, LuPone was awarded the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical in 1985.

LuPone returned to Broadway in 1987 to star in Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, opposite Howard McGillin. Both of them received Tony nominations for their performances. In 1993, she returned to London to perform in the original production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard. She played a role in the original West End production and was nominated as Best Actress in a Musical at the 1993 Laurence Olivier Awards. She was promised to star in its Broadway production. However, her time on the show became difficult, and Lloyd Webber abruptly fired her. LuPone sued Lloyd Webber and got $1 million in settlement.

In 1995, LuPone starred in her one-woman show, Patti LuPone on Broadway, where she received an Outer Critics Circle Award. The following year, she was chosen to star in the Broadway production of Terrence McNally’s play Master Class. She received positive reviews for her performance and appeared in the play when it was produced in the West End. In 2001, she starred in a Broadway revival of Noises Off. She also performed in various New York concert productions of musicals at that time.

LuPone has also been a regular performer at the Chicago Ravinia Festival since 2001. She appeared in a six-year-long series of concert productions of Stephen Sondheim musicals, such as Sweeney ToddGypsyPassionAnyone can Whistle, and Sunday in the Park with George.

In 2005, LuPone returned to Broadway to star in John Doyle’s new Broadway production of Sweeney Todd. In this unique interpretation of the musical, the ten actors also served as the show’s orchestra. LuPone played the tuba and the orchestra bells, as well as performing scores vocally. She received a Tony Award nomination and a Golden Icon Award for Best Female Musical Theater Performance. In 2006, she performed in Lonny Prince’s production of Gypsy at Ravinia.

In 2007, LuPone starred in the Los Angeles Opera production of the Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. She won two Grammy Awards for Best Classical Album and Best Opera Recording in 2009. After the Ravinia Festival show of Gypsy, LuPone was cast for a 22-performance run at the City Center, which transferred to Broadway in 2008. She won a Tony Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama Desk Award, and a Drama League Award for her performance in Gypsy.

LuPone created the role of Lucia in the original Broadway production of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown in 2010. She was nominated for a Tony, an Outer Critics Circle Award, and a Drama Desk Award for her performance.

In 2011, LuPone played the role of Joanne in Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company. That same year, she also made her New York City Ballet debut in a production of The Seven Deadly Sins. LuPone appeared in the premiere of David Mamet’s play The Anarchist.

LuPone returned to Los Angeles Opera in the production of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles. The audio recording of the production won the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording and Best Engineered Album, Classical.

In June 2015, LuPone appeared in the play Shows for Days and joined her castmates to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Les Misérables.

LuPone starred in the original musical War Paint on Broadway in 2017, after performing in the musical’s world premiere at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. She also joined the 2018 London revival of Company.

Awards

  • Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, Tony Award (1980) – Evita
  • Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, Drama Desk Award (1980) – Evita
  • Best Actress in a Musical, Laurence Olivier Award (1985) – Les Misérables / The Cradle Will Rock
  • Outstanding Actress in a Musical, Drama Desk Award (1988) – Anything Goes
  • Best Solo Performance, Outer Critics Circle Award (1995) – Patti LuPone on Broadway
  • Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, Tony Award (2008) – Gypsy
  • Outstanding Actress in a Musical, Drama Desk Award (2008) – Gypsy
  • Outstanding Actress in a Musical, Outer Critics Circle Award (2008) – Gypsy
  • Distinguished Performance, Drama League Award (2008) – Gypsy
  • Best Classical Album, Grammy Award (2008) – Los Angeles Opera production of Kurt Weill’s opera
  • Best Opera Recording, Grammy Award (2008) – Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny 
  • uAward, United Solo Theatre Festival (2011) – The Gypsy in My Soul
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical, Laurence Olivier Award (2019) – Company
  • Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, WhatsOnStage Awards (2019) – Company

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