In an evening equally heartfelt and nostalgic, uncensored and hilarious, legend Patti LuPone evoked cheers and tears from an enraptured audience on Sunday, September 24, 2017, as she shared some of her greatest hits and dished inside-theatre tales at Deconstructing Patti, An Evening of Broadway Songs and Stories with Patti LuPone and Seth Rudetsky.
The one-night-only concert raised a remarkable $280,911 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
The masterful, once-in-a-lifetime performance by LuPone, which evoked six standing ovations, featured Rudetsky skillfully eliciting the insider stories that LuPone would tell only at his prompting. She regaled the audience with her thoughts on everything from missed cues and onstage mishaps to what might be her last musical, then sashayed alongside the piano to sing some of her and the audience’s favorites.
The two-hour concert was hosted by Broadway’s Nederlander Theatre, current home to the critically acclaimed War Paint, which stars LuPone and Christine Ebersole. Originally produced by Mark Cortale in Provincetown, MA, and London, the evening was produced by and benefited Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. It was the first time the unscripted, unpredictable Deconstructing Patti was performed in New York City.
Rudetsky led LuPone and the audience through an improvised “This is Your Life” of LuPone’s hits and high-belting songs. They touched on a wide range of shows, including Anything Goes, Company, Evita, Gypsy, Les Misérables, The Robber Bridegroom, Oliver!, Sunset Boulevard and War Paint. LuPone even offered her take of “Trouble” from The Music Man as the audience provided well-harmonized backup.
LuPone started the evening with “Some People” from Gypsy, included “Sleepy Man” from The Robber Bridegroom and “As Long As He Needs Me” from Oliver!, then previewed her 2018 appearance in a West End reboot of Company with a delicious version of “Ladies Who Lunch.”
After a bit of cajoling from the audience, LuPone ended the show with “With One Look” from Sunset Boulevard. LuPone originated the role of Norma Desmond in London; Glenn Close starred in the role on Broadway.
Throughout the evening, special guests joined LuPone and Rudetsky onstage to share in the storytelling and to sing with the two-time Tony Award winner.
Frances Ruffelle, a Tony winner herself as the original Éponine in Les Misérables, reunited with LuPone, who created the role of Fantine in London. They sang their final classic harmony from “Epilogue” before Ruffelle sang “On My Own,” which left LuPone in tears.
Two-time Tony nominee Howard McGillin starred with LuPone in the 1988 revival of Anything Goes. The pair sang “You’re the Top” to tremendous applause.
As LuPone and Rudetsky reminisced on the trials and triumphs of Evita, four-time Tony nominee and one-time “Che” Raúl Esparza walked on stage surprising the audience. LuPone and Esparza then worked their way through “High Flying Adored” and “Rainbow High.”
Ebersole, the two-time Tony winner and co-star in War Paint, joined LuPone and shared stories of onstage mishaps before the pair belted their show’s Act 1 finale, “Face to Face.” They were joined by War Paint composer Scott Frankel on piano.
Esparza returned for an Evita encore with LuPone and British actor Nic Gibney, who played Magaldi on the U.K. tour of Evita and is currently in Annie on the West End. The trio ripped through a show-stopping version of “Eva and Magaldi” before LuPone concluded with “Buenos Aires.”
Rudetsky has worked with LuPone for years and presented a smaller-scale version of this show elsewhere.
“Deconstructing Patti was the kind of event Broadway Cares does so well: joyous and pure Broadway,” Rudetsky said. ”Patti was so hilarious and uncensored while giving an incredible scoop on her whole career as well as singing her biggest and high-belted hits. I think Laurence O’Keefe, who composed Legally Blonde, described best what the audience felt when he texted me: ‘OMG, still teary-eyed. You don’t understand…I never thought I would in my lifetime see her sing those songs live.’ ”
Photos by Daniel T. Gramkee