Patti LuPone’s concert tour leaves fans ecstatic at Kennedy Center

Her extraordinary voice purred, preened, and exploded with depth and power.

Legendary Broadway star Patti LuPone raised the roof at the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall on Friday, giving ecstatic fans a musical tour through her decades in show business. Now 75, with two bionic hips, a new shoulder and a possible second one to come (each of which resulting from strenuous, long-running roles), LuPone has not lost one ounce of her grace and verve. Her extraordinary voice purred, preened, and exploded with depth and power, often within a single phrase.

LuPone’s new concert tour, which extends to Australia next month, was beautifully written by Jeffrey Richman from the singer’s rich recollections. Musical Director Joseph Thalken, who has collaborated with luminaries including Bernadette Peters and Renée Fleming, accompanied her on piano and offered occasional vocal harmony. Brad Phillips, who has also worked with a slew of musical superstars, backed up LuPone on an array of string instruments. At every turn, the singer gratefully acknowledged her collaborators and encouraged her audience to do the same.

Patti LuPone. Publicity photo by Douglas Friedman.

Sporting a smart black pantsuit with twinkling sequin lapels, LuPone traced her musical journey from Northport, Long Island, where she came of age desperately in love with movie star Troy Donahue. She recalled that achingly painful teenage era through some of its most memorable anthems, including “Teen Angel” and “Town Without Pity.” Then it was on to the sixties with “Alfie” and “Those Were the Days.” LuPone infused each of these enigmatic songs with an astute mix of wistfulness and joy.

She emerged in the second half in a splendid silvery gown with diaphanous “wings” that sashayed dramatically as she moved. Now we were in the era of LuPone’s most memorable Tony- and Olivier-winning roles, including Eva Peron in the original production of Evita. “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” brought the audience to its feet. Recalling her role as Fantine in Les Misérables, which she also originated in London, LuPone gave her audience a rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” that spoke to the pathos of lost love and bitterly dashed hopes. Yet even among a succession of high points, LuPone’s sterling performance of “Ladies Who Lunch” from Steven Sondheim’s Company, arched way, way over the top, bringing her fans out of their seats once again.

Like all of us, LuPone’s forced at-home stint during the pandemic allowed time for her to reflect on what meant most to her. Family came first. She now looks back on her life with gratitude and ahead with tempered joy. The songstress gently brought us down to earth with a series lighter but no less entertaining songs, including Cole Porter’s 1930s romp, “Anything Goes” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.” Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” — truly a description of LuPone herself — rounded out an evening that offered something memorable for every one of her fans at the Kennedy Center.

Running Time: Two hours plus a 15-minute intermission.

Patti LuPone: A Life in Notes played at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, 2700 F Street NW, Washington, DC, for one night only, May 17, 2024.

The program for Patti LuPone: A Life in Notes is online here.

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