I have a confession. I love Patti Lupone. Maybe the real shock in this statement comes from the fact that I have an obsession with someone you probably haven’t heard of, but you really should know. For the past 3 months, I’ve done nothing but blast her voice over my speaker, serenading my entire dorm, read interviews, and peruse the internet for obscure Patti Lupone memes. So, who is the amazing Patti Lupone?
Patti is one of Broadway’s great leading ladies. Before Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth, there was Patti. You might also recognize her from her guest appearances on shows like “30 Rock” and “Crazy Ex Girlfriend.” Aside from nailing high notes and immaculate ennunciatiation, there are many reasons why you should be a Patti fan, too.
Patti’s fame began when she landed the role of Eva Perón in Evita, one of the stage’s most demanding roles. If the vocals and dependency on Eva weren’t enough of a challenge, Patti had to convince the audience (and herself) that the famous dictator (or dictator’s wife) could be a likeable person. People didn’t want to like Eva, unfortunately projecting that dislike onto Patti. She did win a Tony for this performance, but it left her branded with the label of “diva” or a certain 5 letter b-word that’s a lot worse, in my opinion.
Patti had to work her way out of the typecast that stuck with her following Evita. Despite being in class 1 at Juilliard and winning a Tony, she couldn’t find any jobs. Patti had to forge her own path and work even harder, which is hard to believe knowing her fame today. I really admire her self-made attitude as she has often proven her talents. She could play more than a shrewish woman, going on to play Fantine in Les Miserablés and Reno in Anything Goes. But she does still play the some of the most convincing powerful star roles (just look up her performance in Gypsy).
Because of her tireless work, Patti has still been labeled a diva because any woman forging her own path must be a diva, right? Her reaction, even in her late 60s, is iconic. Patti says that the term diva only belongs at the opera, not a title for any woman that’s hard to work with or simply unrelenting. Have you ever heard of a male diva? Didn’t think so.
I can be very quiet, fearful to speak up, and it’s the exact opposite that I admire in Patti Lupone. Patti is completely unapologetic, presenting her truest self. Name someone else who has the confidence to say that Madonna “can’t act her way out of a paper bag.” We should probably be a little nicer to each other, but I admire her honesty. Patti knows what her opinions are and she follows through. She’s a huge advocate for theatre etiquette — a cause I am quite passionate about. For some reason, people think that it is ok to spend money on a fairly pricey activity and then spend time glued to their phones. If Patti sees someone on their phone, she is not having any of it. You have to be immensely talented to be able to stop a show completely in order to take away someone’s phone…and then have the audience cheer you on! Yes, she really did stop a show during the climax of her solo to kick someone out of the theater. She has also walked straight out into the audience and snatched a phone right out of a woman’s hand. Wow. I can’t even tell someone that they gave me the wrong drink, and she can just sashay into the audience and steal a phone.
We all need a strong woman to look up to who is unafraid to be herself, stands up for whatever she thinks is right, and believes in herself. Patti Lupone may have just turned 70, but she is still completely relatable. I may not have thrown a lamp out a window when things don’t go my way, but I’ve certainly felt like it. She never slows down. She’s doing concerts, still crushing it on Broadway, and fighting ageism everyday. Here’s to Patti Lupone.