News Column

Patti LuPone brings her Broadway voice to CSB

September 12, 2013


Sept. 12--Two-time Tony award-winning actress Patti LuPone kicks off the 2013--14 fine arts season Saturday at the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University.

Fine Arts Executive Director Brian Jose said he reached out to her management to get her to open the season in the college's centennial year.

"We wanted a big name," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, there's no bigger name in Broadway. She's a living legend, the embodiment of a female opening artist of the season."

LuPone's Tony awards come from her performances in "Evita" and most recently in "Gypsy." She was also the original Fantine in "Les Miserables."

For her part, LuPone wasn't aware her performance is tied to the school's 100th year; her agents didn't tell her that specifically. But the gesture arrived kindly.

"I'm very flattered that they want me to come celebrate their centennial," she said.

The St. Ben's show will focus on LuPone's "Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda ... played that part" catalog, show tunes that she either has performed or wishes she could have performed.

"More of the iconic roles and roles that I wished I had done and roles I could never get cast in," she said of the selections.

As a part of the show, she'll tell stories associated with those songs.

"Comedy is based in truth, so I am telling the truth about my career, how I ended up on the stage in St. Cloud. ... They tend to be humorous," she said.

Two shows Thursday and Friday at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis will feature music from "Far Away Places," the live album LuPone recorded at the Broadway supper club 54 Below and released in January.

She said she likes doing all types of performances, be they in a stage production or like the one she's planning for St. Ben's.

"It's harder to do the concerts where you're singing me. ... There's no mask to hide behind, no character," she said.

Every piece of theater takes some sort of stand, and there's something you can learn from each, she said.

"I learn more from singing without a mask to an audience," she said. "In productions, you can hide, or have a tendency to hide behind a character. ... You do not hide when you're being yourself on stage."

LuPone is also known for her film and television work. She appeared as the mother on "Life Goes On," an early-90s series that dealt with a child with down syndrome and other issues. She's also appeared on "30 Rock" and many other shows.

Jose recognized LuPone when she played the mother of Frank, a character on the NBC show.

"She was spot on in that role," he said.

LuPone is currently in the middle of filming a new season of "American Horror Story," which follows the story of a coven of witches.

She wouldn't give any hints about the new season but promised she'll be doing a lot of acting. The season has a packed lineup: LuPone will work with Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett.

"It's extraordinary," she said.

LuPone has performed in Minnesota before, as Rosalind in "As You Like It" on the Guthrie Theater stage in the 1980s.

"It was the coldest winter Minnesota had seen in 100 years," she said. Her favorite thing about Minnesota was that she learned to order a beer back with a Bloody Mary.

"I have fond memories. I was thrown out of Prince's rock club; I used to plug my car in at night," she said.


(c)2013 the St. Cloud Times (St. Cloud, Minn.)

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