Patti Ann LuPone (born April 21, 1949) is an American actress and singer, best known for her work in stage musicals. She is a two-time Grammy Award winner and a two-time Tony Award winner. She is also a 2006 American Theater Hall of Fame inductee.
LuPone began her professional career with the The Acting Company in 1972 and made her Broadway debut in Three Sisters in 1973. She received the first of six (as of 2013) Tony Award nominations for the 1975 musical The Robber Bridegroom. She won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Eva Perón in the 1979 original Broadway production of Evita. In 1985, she played Fantine in the original London cast of Les Misérables and Moll in The Cradle Will Rock, winning the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her work in both.
Other stage musical performances include her Tony nominated role as Reno Sweeney in the 1987 revival of Anything Goes, her Olivier nominated role as Norma Desmond in the 1993 original production of Sunset Boulevard in London, her Tony nominated role as Mrs. Lovett in the 2005 production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, her Tony Award winning role as Mama Rose in the 2007 revival of Gypsy, and her Tony nominated role as Lucia in the 2010 original production of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.
She starred alongside Audra McDonald in the 2007 Los Angeles Opera production of Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny and won two Grammy Awards for the 2008 recording, for Best Classical Album and Best Opera Recording.
On television, she starred in the drama series Life Goes On (1989-1993) and received Emmy Award nominations for the TV Movie The Song Spinner (1995) and for her guest role in the sitcom Frasier (1998). She also had a role in the third season of the FX thriller series American Horror Story: Coven (2013-2014). Her films include Witness (1985), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), State and Main (2000) and Parker (2013).
Early life and training
LuPone was born in Northport, New York, on Long Island, the daughter of Angela Louise (née Patti), a college library administrator, and Orlando Joseph LuPone, a school administrator. Her great-grand-aunt was the celebrated nineteenth-century opera singer Adelina Patti. Her older brother Robert LuPone is an actor, dancer, and director who originated the role of Zach the director in A Chorus Line. Her other brother William LuPone is a teacher. When they were young, they performed on Long Island as the LuPone Trio. She is of Italian/Abruzzese descent, and a graduate of Northport High School, where she studied under the musical direction of voice coach Esther Scott.
LuPone was part of the first graduating class of Juilliard's Drama Division (1968–1972: Group 1), which also included actors Kevin Kline and David Ogden Stiers. She graduated from Juilliard in 1972 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
In 1972, LuPone became one of the original members of The Acting Company, formed by John Houseman. The Acting Company is a nationally touring repertory theater company. LuPone's stint with the company lasted from 1972 to 1976, and she appeared in many of their productions, such as The Cradle Will Rock, The School for Scandal, Women Beware Women, The Beggar's Opera, The Time of Your Life, The Lower Depths, The Hostage, Next Time I'll Sing to You, Measure for Measure, Scapin, Edward II, The Orchestra, Love's Labours Lost, Arms and the Man, The Way of the World. She made her Broadway debut in the play The Three Sisters as Irina in 1973. For her work in The Robber Bridegroom (1975) she received her first Tony Award nomination, for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. The Acting Company honored Patti LuPone on March 12, 2012 in an event called "Patti's Turn" at the Kaye Playhouse.
In 1976, producer David Merrick hired LuPone as a replacement to play Genevieve, the title role of the troubled pre-Broadway production of The Baker's Wife. The production toured at length but Merrick deemed it unworthy of Broadway and it closed out of town.
Since 1977, LuPone has been a frequent collaborator with David Mamet, appearing in his plays The Woods, All Men are Whores, The Blue Hour, The Water Engine (1978), Edmond and The Old Neighborhood (1997). The New York Times reviewer wrote of LuPone in The Old Neighborhood "Those who know Ms. LuPone only as a musical comedy star will be stunned by the naturalistic fire she delivers here. As Jolly, a part inspired by Mr. Mamet's real-life sister and his realized female character, Ms. LuPone finds conflicting layers of past and present selves in practically every line. She emerges as both loving matriarch and wounded adolescent, sentimental and devastatingly clear-eyed." In 1978, she appeared in the Broadway musical adaptation of Studs Terkel's Working, which ran for only 24 performances.
In 1979 LuPone starred in the original Broadway production of Evita, the musical based on the life of Eva Perón, composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, and directed by Harold Prince. Although LuPone was hailed by critics, she has since said that her time in Evita was not an enjoyable one. In a 2007 interview, she stated " 'Evita' was the worst experience of my life," she said. "I was screaming my way through a part that could only have been written by a man who hates women. And I had no support from the producers, who wanted a star performance onstage but treated me as an unknown backstage. It was like Beirut, and I fought like a banshee." Despite the trouble, LuPone won her first Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. LuPone and her co-star, Mandy Patinkin, remained close friends both on and off the stage.
In May 1983, founding alumni of The Acting Company reunited for an off-Broadway revival of Marc Blitzstein's landmark labor musical The Cradle Will Rock at the American Place Theater. It was narrated by John Houseman, with LuPone in the roles of Moll and Sister Mister. The production premiered at The Acting Company's summer residence at Chautauqua Institution, toured the United States, including an engagement at the Highland Park, Illinois' Ravinia Festival in 1984, and played London's West End.
When the run ended, LuPone remained in London to create the role of Fantine in Cameron Mackintosh's original London production of Les Misérables, in 1985, which premiered at the Barbican Theatre, at that time the London home of the Royal Shakespeare Company. LuPone had previously worked for Mackintosh in a short-lived Broadway revival of Oliver! in 1984, playing Nancy opposite Ron Moody as Fagin. For her work in both The Cradle Will Rock and Les Misérables, LuPone received the 1985 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
She returned to Broadway in 1987 to star as nightclub singer Reno Sweeney in the Lincoln Center Theater revival of Cole Porter's Anything Goes. She starred opposite Howard McGillin, and they both received Tony Award nominations for their performances. The Lincoln Center cast reassembled for a one-night-only concert performance of Anything Goes in New York in 2002.
In 1993, LuPone returned to London to create the role of Norma Desmond in the original production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard at the Adelphi Theater. There was much anticipation of LuPone appearing in another Lloyd Webber musical, the first since her performance in Evita. Her time in the show was difficult and she was abruptly fired by Lloyd Webber and replaced by Glenn Close who opened the show in Los Angeles and eventually on Broadway.
In November 1995 LuPone starred in her one-woman show, Patti LuPone on Broadway, at the Walter Kerr Theatre. For her work, she received an Outer Critics Circle Award. The following year, she was selected by producer Robert Whitehead to succeed his wife, Zoe Caldwell in the Broadway production of Terrence McNally's play Master Class, based on the master classes given by operatic diva Maria Callas at Juilliard. LuPone received positive reviews, with Vincent Canby writing "Ms. LuPone really is vulnerable here in a way that wasn't anticipated: she's in the process of creating a role for which she isn't ideally suited, but she's working like a trouper to get it right." She appeared in the play in the West End. In November 2001, she starred in a Broadway revival of Noises Off, with Peter Gallagher and Faith Prince.
LuPone has performed in numerous New York concert productions of musicals including Pal Joey with Peter Gallagher and Bebe Neuwirth, Annie Get Your Gun with Peter Gallagher, Sweeney Todd with George Hearn in both New York and San Francisco, Anything Goes with Howard McGillin, Can-Can with Michael Nouri for City Center Encores!, Candide with Kristin Chenoweth, Passion with Michael Cerveris and Audra McDonald and Gypsy with Boyd Gaines and Laura Benanti for City Center Encores!. Her performances in Sweeney Todd, and Candide were recorded and broadcast for PBSs Great Performances and were released on DVD. The concert staging of Passion was televised as part of Live from Lincoln Center.
Since 2001, LuPone has been a regular performer at the Chicago Ravinia Festival. She starred in a six-year-long series of concert presentations of Stephen Sondheim musicals, which began in honor of his seventieth birthday. Her roles here have included Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, Fosca in Passion, Cora Hoover Hooper in Anyone Can Whistle, Rose in Gypsy and two different roles in Sunday in the Park with George.
She returned to Broadway in October 2005, to star as Mrs. Lovett in John Doyle's new Broadway production of Sweeney Todd. In this radically different interpretation of the musical, the ten actors on stage also served as the show's orchestra, and LuPone played the tuba and the orchestra bells as well as vocally performing the score. For her performance, she received a Tony Award nomination as well as a Golden Icon Award for Best Female Musical Theater Performance. In August 2006, LuPone took a three-week leave from Sweeney in order to play Rose in Lonny Price's production of Gypsy at Ravinia. Sweeney Todd closed in September 2006.
On February 10, 2007, LuPone starred with Audra McDonald in the Los Angeles Opera production of Kurt Weill's opera Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny directed by John Doyle. The recording of the Los Angeles Opera production of Kurt Weill's opera Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, featuring McDonald and LuPone, won two Grammy Awards, for Best Opera Recording and Best Classical Album in February 2009.
Following the Ravinia Festival production of Gypsy, LuPone and author Arthur Laurents mended a decade-long rift and she was cast in the City Center Encores! Summer Stars production of the show. Laurents directed LuPone in Gypsy for a 22 performance run (July 9, 2007 – July 29, 2007) at City Center. This production of Gypsy then transferred to Broadway, opening March 27, 2008 at the St. James Theatre. LuPone won the Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama League Award, Drama Desk Award, and Tony Award for her performance in Gypsy. It closed on January 11, 2009.
In August 2010, LuPone appeared in a three-day run of Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun, in which she played the title role opposite Patrick Cassidy, at the Ravinia Festival, directed by Lonny Price.
In 2010, LuPone created the role of Lucia in the original Broadway production of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, which opened at the Belasco Theater on November 4, 2010, and closed on January 2, 2011, after 23 previews and 69 regular performances. LuPone was nominated for a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, and an Outer Critics Circle Award for her performance.
In 2011, LuPone played the role of Joanne in a four-night limited engagement concert production of Stephen Sondheim's 1970 musical Company at the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Sondheim expert Paul Gemignani. The production starred Neil Patrick Harris as Bobby. Harris had previously worked with LuPone in the 2000 and 2001 concert productions of Sweeney Todd. The cast of Company performed the song "Side by Side by Side" at the 65th Tony Awards on June 12, 2011.
LuPone made her New York City Ballet debut in May 2011 in a production of The Seven Deadly Sins, directed and choreographed by Lynne Taylor-Corbett. A piece she had previously performed, LuPone sang the role of Anna in the Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht score.
LuPone recently concluded a 63-performance Broadway engagement of her concert with former Evita co-star Mandy Patinkin, entitled An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin. The run started on November 21, 2011 at the Ethel Barrymore Theater, and ended on January 13, 2012.
In the fall of 2012 LuPone appeared with Debra Winger in David Mamet new play The Anarchist. Despite the play receiving less than stellar reviews from critics, LuPone received widespread praise for her role as Cathy.
Solo concerts and tours
LuPone performs regularly in her solo shows Matters of the Heart; Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda; and The Lady With the Torch which sold out at Carnegie Hall. For example, she performed her one-woman show The Gypsy In My Soul at the Caramoor Fall Festival, New York, in September 2010.
She also appears at venues across North America in concerts with Mandy Patinkin, at such venues as the Mayo Center for the Performing Arts in September 2010.
She is appearing as the inaugural act at a new cabaret space, 54 Below, in New York City in June 2012. According to the New York Times reviewer, "Nowadays Ms. LuPone generates more raw excitement than any other performer on the Broadway and cabaret axis, with the possible exception of Liza Minnelli.... And her brilliant show, conceived and directed by her longtime collaborator, Scott Wittman, deserves many lives, perhaps even a Broadway run in an expanded edition. It certifies Ms. LuPone's place in the lineage of quirky international chanteuses like Lotte Lenya, Marlene Dietrich and Edith Piaf, who, like Ms. LuPone, conquered show business with forceful, outsize personalities while playing by their own musical rules."
Film and television work
Among LuPone's film credits are Fighting Back, Witness, Just Looking, The Victim, Summer of Sam, Driving Miss Daisy, King of the Gypsies, 1941, Wise Guys, Nancy Savoca's The 24 Hour Woman and Savoca's Union Square (in post-production, late 2010), Family Prayers, and City by the Sea. She has also worked with playwright David Mamet on The Water Engine, the critically acclaimed State and Main, and Heist. In 2011, the feature film Union Square, co-written and directed by the Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Award Winner, Nancy Savoca, is being premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. In it, Patti co-stars with Mira Sorvino, Tammy Blanchard, Mike Doyle, Michael Rispoli and Daphne Rubin-Vega.
She played Lady Bird Johnson in the TV movie, LBJ: The Early Years (1987). LuPone played Libby Thatcher on the television drama Life Goes On, which ran on ABC from 1989 to 1993. In the 1990s she had a recurring role as defense attorney Ruth Miller on Law & Order. She has twice been nominated for an Emmy Award: for the TV movie The Song Spinner (1995, Daytime Emmy Award nominee), and for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series on Frasier in 1998. She had a cameo as herself on a 1998 episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by Kelsey Grammer.
LuPone's TV work also includes a recurring role on her cousin Tom Fontana's HBO's series in its final season Oz (2003). She appeared as herself on a February 2005 episode of Will & Grace. She also appeared on the series Ugly Betty in March 2007 as the mother of Marc St. James (played by Michael Urie). LuPone has a recurring guest role as Frank Rossitano's mother on 30 Rock. LuPone appeared as herself in the season two finale of the television series Glee.
LuPone will guest star on Army Wives on July 8, 2012, and reunite with fellow guest star Kellie Martin as her mother once again. LuPone appeared in the 2013 film Parker, an action-thriller.
In 2013, LuPone was cast in the third season of FX series American Horror Story as Joan Ramsey, a religious mother with a hidden past. In 2013 LuPone was cast in the third season of the hit HBO show "Girls" as herself.
Stance on distractions from audience members
LuPone opposes recording, photographs, and other electronic distractions in live theatre. "Where's the elegance?" she asked in a blog post on her official site. "I mean, I'm glad they show up because God knows it's a dying art form and I guess I'm glad they're all comfortable, sleeping, eating and drinking, things they should be doing at home and in a restaurant. But it's just not done in the theatre or shouldn't be." LuPone has been the subject of some controversy due to the bluntness of her statements regarding this matter.
A related incident occurred at the second to last performance of Gypsy on January 10, 2009. LuPone, irritated by flash photography, stopped in the middle of "Rose's Turn" and loudly demanded that the interloper be removed from the theatre. After he was removed, LuPone restarted her number. The audience applauded her stance. The event was recorded by another audience member, who released it on YouTube. She later stated that such distractions drive "people in the audience nuts. They can't concentrate on the stage if, in their peripheral vision, they're seeing texting, they're seeing cameras, they're listening to phone calls. How can we do our job if the audience is distracted?", and also mentioned that "the interesting thing is I'm not the first one that's done it".
LuPone wrote a memoir, recounting her life and career from childhood to the present, which was released in September 2010. It was simply titled Patti LuPone: A Memoir, which was, according to LuPone, the winner of the competition she held to name the book.
LuPone is married to Matthew Johnston. The couple were wed on the stage of the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center on December 12, 1988, after filming the TV movie LBJ; Johnston was a cameraman. They have one child, Joshua Luke Johnston (b. November 21, 1990). The family resides in Connecticut and South Carolina.
Awards and nominations
LuPone recorded a duet with Seth MacFarlane (who was in character as Glenn Quagmire) on the 2005 album Family Guy: Live In Vegas. A new CD of one of her shows, The Lady with the Torch, was released in 2006 on Sh-K-Boom Records. In December she released bonus tracks for that CD only available on iTunes and the Sh-K-Boom website.
Selected recordings include:
The Baker's Wife (Original cast recording)
Evita (Original Broadway cast recording)
The Cradle Will Rock (The Acting Company recording)
Les Misérables (Original London Cast recording)
Anything Goes (New Broadway Cast Recording)
Heat Wave (John Mauceri conducting the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra)
Patti LuPone Live (Solo Album)
Sunset Boulevard (World Premiere/Original London Cast Recording)
Matters of the Heart (Solo Album)
Sweeney Todd (New York Philharmonic recording)
Sweeney Todd (2005 Broadway Cast recording)
The Lady with the Torch (Solo Album)
The Lady With the Torch...Still Burning (Solo Album)
To Hell and Back (Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra World Premier recording)
Gypsy (2008 Broadway Revival Cast Recording)
Patti LuPone At Les Mouches (Live Solo Recording of 1980 club act)
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Her live performance of "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" at the Grammy Awards was released on the 1994 album Grammy's Greatest Moments Volume IV.
In 2009 LuPone's 1985 recording of "I Dreamed a Dream" reached #45 on the UK Singles Chart It also reached the Billboard magazine Hot Digital Songs and Hot Singles Recurrents charts in the US.
A live concert special film, "An Evening with Patti LuPone", was filmed in July 2012 and released in November 2012 on SethTv.com with 104 minutes of Patti LuPone songs and stories with host Seth Rudetsky.
Patti LuPone's Official Site
Patti LuPone at the Internet Broadway Database
Patti LuPone at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
Patti LuPone at the Internet Movie Database
Patti LuPone at People.com
Patti LuPone on PlaybillVault
Patti LuPone Interview
InnerVIEWS with Ernie Manouse: Patti LuPone (TV Interview)
Patti LuPone – Downstage Center interview at American Theatre Wing.org
University of the Arts Show Music Magazine Database
Patti LuPone concert special on SethTV.com. Filmed July, 2012.