Patti LuPone
Patti LuPone
In 1980, Patti LuPone won her first Tony Award for best actress in a musical for her portrayal of Eva Peron, the ambitious, doomed wife of Argentine dictator Juan Peron, in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Evita. In 2008, LuPone won her second Tony as Mama Rose, the maniacal stage mother of Gypsy Rose Lee, in a revival of Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim's Gypsy. In between, she maintained a career as one of the most successful musical theater stars of her generation. Unlike predecessors such as Mary Martin and Ethel Merman, however, she did not work in a theater environment that allowed her to go from show to show with few interruptions. Instead, while waiting for contemporary composers to come up with new shows worthy of her talent or producers to mount revivals in which she could star, she filled the time acting in straight plays, in films, and on television; created nightclub acts and mounted concert tours; and recorded solo albums. Nevertheless, her true m├ętier was the musical theater. Possessed of a powerful voice and an intense performing style, she was sometimes criticized for having a "cold," "dark" persona. If so, that persona was ideal for the kinds of anti-heroines who peopled the musicals of the later decades of the 20th century, not only Eva Peron and Mama Rose, but also Norma Desmond, the aging silent film star of Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard, and Mrs. Lovett, the murderous pie seller in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, and LuPone excelled at playing them.
Share Email Bookmark