The good news is that Patti LuPone’s show at New York City’s newest cabaret, 54 Below, put together by musical director Scott Wittman, was easily the best musical act I’ve ever seen. Ever.
The bad news? Where Patti’s performances are concerned, there never usually is any bad news. Everything’s always good. This time, however, her show, which is a two week engagement, is all sold out already, so that should break a lot of Broadway Babies’ hearts. Whoever hesitated to get a ticket to this one is, unfortunately, lost.
We Broadway Baby-types love La LuPone, and for a multitude of excellent reasons: she’s got the most transcendent singing voice in the business, she knows how to entertain, whether the song is a moving number about heartbreak or hilarious funny. Added into the mix is the cool fact that she’s one of us, a New York gal who doesn’t put up with any crap, which sometimes, if we’re lucky, gets incorporated into a performance. Everybody who goes to see Patti always secretly hopes that if someone in the audience is a little more than slightly out of line – say, by taking some unlawful photographs, as happened at a now infamous performance of Gypsy – she’ll stop the show again and let forth with a nice, loud, clarion-like proclamation in the direction of the offender of, “Who do you think – you – are?”
That didn’t happen at last night’s performance, though Patti mentioned it. She said she would have made a fabulous stewardess. If anybody was out of line on her plane, she’d have hit them with a good dose of “Who do you think you are?” Come to think of it, that might be an excellent suggestion for airline security protocols involving hijackers. I bet with a few choice words she could have stopped D.B. Cooper cold and recovered the loot besides.
54 Below is located under the old Studio 54 dance club. The former disco was transformed into a theater in the late 1990’s. The little supper club-cabaret that is now below it has been decorated in a style that reminds me of old photographs I’ve seen of a 1920’s speakeasy. It’s a cozy yet elegant, comfortable performance space. Patti LuPone was chosen as the opening act to “christen” it, and what a perfect choice! Patti had that little room rocking with numbers like my favorite one of hers of all time, “I Wanna Be Around,” which she described in the liner notes of her Lady With a Torch album as “the Sicilian National Anthem” (she’s from a Sicilian family); Cole Porter’s tongue-in-cheek number, “The Marketplace in Old Peking;” the beautifully moving “September Song;” a brilliant encore request rendition of “The Ladies Who Lunch;” and a comic number that’s a tribute to Edith Piaf, Miss LuPone’s hero, called “I Regret Everything.” Patti LuPone said she has read everything ever written about the late, great, singing phenomenon that was Piaf. This leads me to add that some movie producer somewhere is going to regret everything, too, if he or she does not consider making a new Edith Piaf movie with Miss LuPone portraying the French singer. There can never be enough Edith Piaf movies, if you ask me, nor can there ever be enough songs sung by Patti LuPone, so to put the numbers of Edith Piaf together with the voice of Patti LuPone would be a perfectly stunning combination!
Oh, did I say the show was all sold out already? Yes, it is…on this continent. But I have it on good authority that Patti LuPone might just be taking this show to London. Only two days into the short run at 54 Below, there has already been talk of bringing her show to Europe, and if that’s where it’s heading, don’t hesitate, folks, don’t regret everything, get those tickets fast! You’ll love it!