Review: Patti LuPone: Don’t Monkey with Broadway

David Finch

LuPone delivered the goods, and then some.
Review: Patti LuPone: Don’t Monkey with Broadway

Patti LuPone at Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

American Broadway legend Patti LuPone’s show Don’t Monkey With Broadway promised to be one of the highlights of the 2018 Adelaide Cabaret Festival and what a stellar highlight it was; LuPone delivered the goods, and then some, in a mercurial performance that will be remembered by Adelaide musical theatre lovers for years to come.

LuPone is a seven time Tony award-nominated Broadway superstar. The Long Islander’s Broadway career began back in 1973 when she appeared in The Three Sisters but it was musical theatre that inspired her and it would be in musicals that she would make her name. Her first major starring role came in 1979 when she was cast as Eva Peron in the original Broadway production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita, for which she won her first Tony. She won her second Tony in 2008 for the leading role of Mama Rose in Gypsy.

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From the moment LuPone walked out on to the stage and belted out Don’t Monkey with Broadway, superbly accompanied on piano by her musical director Joseph Thalken, her pedigree and class were evident; it is not every night that a performer with such a renowned voice and polished, engaging presence graces this stage.

LuPone sang songs from her Tony award-winning performances including 'Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ from Evita and a rendition of ‘Some People’ from Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim’s Gypsy that brilliantly conveyed the complexities of the character of Mama Rose. Between songs LuPone offered entertaining and charming anecdotes that explained her personal connection to the songs performed.  One of the highlights of the evening was her contained, droll performance of the wizened prostitute’s ‘come on’ that is ’Big Spender’ from Cy Coleman and Dorothy Field’s Sweet Charity. Other notable performances in the lengthy performance included ‘Somewhere (A Place For Us)’ from Bernstein and Sondheim’s West Side Story, ’and ‘Meadowlark’ from Stephen Schwartz’s The Baker’s Wife.

After the interval LuPone and Thalken were joined on stage by members of the Adelaide-based Gospo Collective Choir who provided brilliant accompaniment to ‘Ya Got Trouble’ from Meredith Willson’s The Music Man and ‘Blow, Gabriel Blow’ from Cole Porter’s Anything Goes and Frank Loesser's ‘Sit Down, You're Rocking The Boat’ from Guys and Dolls.

For her first Encore LuPone grasped a martini glass and slurred, wonderfully, the classic drunken toast song ‘Ladies Who Lunch’ from Stephen Sondheim’s Company. She was then joined on stage by the Gospo Collective Choir for a sweet and sentimental a capella farewell lullaby that was the perfect ending to a magnificent evening of entertainment.

Rating: 4 ½ stars ★★★★☆

Patti LuPone: Don’t Monkey with Broadway
Patti LuPone
With the Gospo Collective Choir

Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Musical Direction and Piano: Joseph Thalken
Conceived and directed by Scott Wittman

21 June 2018
Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

David Finch is a lawyer and aspiring writer. He has previously reviewed arts and film for the ABC. He tweets film reviews as @filmreview4U

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