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Patti LuPone At Les Mouches

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Album Review

In 1980, during her Tony-winning run as the title character in Evita on Broadway, Patti LuPone also performed a once-a-week, Saturday-night-at-midnight nightclub act at a club called Les Mouches for 27 weeks, starting on March 1. Having rushed downtown and put on a tuxedo, she fronted a piano/guitar/bass/drums quartet in an act that combined traditional pop standards (Cole Porter's "Love for Sale") with songs associated with her ("Meadowlark" from her show The Baker's Wife and, inevitably, "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina") and some contemporary pop/rock numbers (Patti Smith's "Because the Night," the Kinks' "[Wish I Could Fly Like] Superman"). Her performances were not recorded professionally, but somebody, probably musical director David Lewis, taped some of the shows off the soundboard, and those cassette tapes moldered in a shoebox in a closet for more than a quarter-century before being retrieved and restored for this album. The result doesn't have the sound quality of a typical live recording, of course, but LuPone's voice is clear and the band, though under-recorded, is audible. The more densely arranged songs suffer the most, so that, for instance, the amusing "Heaven Is a Disco" is muddy and distorted. But listeners should have no trouble overlooking the audio deficiencies and enjoying the show. LuPone is giddy and giggling, often seeming nervous. (Much of the disc seems to have been recorded at the closing performance attended by several VIPs, among them Stephen Sondheim.) But that doesn't keep her from singing well. She is best at her signature songs, particularly "Meadowlark," but she gets points for trying unlikely choices like "Because the Night," even if they don't quite work. (Here, a louder band performance would have helped, but LuPone simply is no rocker.) This is not the definitive LuPone recording, but fans will welcome it as a historical artifact and a fun show.

Biography

Born: 21 April 1949 in Northport, NY

Genre: Vocal

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

In 1980, Patti LuPone won her first Tony Award for best actress in a musical for her portrayal of Eva Peron, the ambitious, doomed wife of Argentine dictator Juan Peron, in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Evita. In 2008, LuPone won her second Tony as Mama Rose, the maniacal stage mother of Gypsy Rose Lee, in a revival of Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim's Gypsy. In between, she maintained a career as one of the most successful musical theater stars of her generation. Unlike predecessors such as...
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