Patti LuPone @ Proctors

04.28.18
Patti LuPone
Albany Times-Union

Two song-stopping mistakes freed and humanized Patti LuPone.

The Broadway legend, still possessed of a vocal instrument of singular power, was three songs into the second set of "Don't Monkey with Broadway," her outstanding one-woman show at Proctors on Friday night, when she botched the lyrics to "Blow, Gabriel, Blow," from Cole Porter's "Anything Goes." She gestured to her superlative musical director and pianist, Joseph Thalken, and to the College of Saint Rose Masterworks Chorale, which provided backing vocals for several songs, to stop.

"I so screwed up," she said with a genuine, bracing laugh of disbelief. "I sang this song for 15 months at the Lincoln Center Theatre, but I got it wrong!" They sorted out where to restart and, with LuPone's eyes intent on Thalken's lips for lyrical guidance during tricky parts, they brought the song to a suitably rousing, and correct finish.

It happened again during "Something's Coming," from "West Side Story," drawing another laugh from LuPone, and she referenced the goofs during a four-song Sondheim suite. But instead of diminishing the show, which packs personal anecdotes and more than two dozen familiar and lesser-known Broadway songs into almost two hours, the mistakes softened a woman who, though only 5-foot-2, has a persona as outsize and fearsome as her brass lungs. The diva who belted her way into Broadway history almost 40 years ago in the title role of "Evita" is fallible, it turns out, and all the more relatable for it.

By now, a show from the grand lady, who turned 69 last week, is less about the individual songs, of course, than it is about experiencing them being LuPoned. And while her pitch wasn't always perfect, particularly in the lower register, the big notes – and there were oh so many – were moments of magnificence.

Nobody else quite does what LuPone does. She blends the interpretative skill and vocal beauty of Barbra Streisand with the clarion power of Ethel Merman. The up-tempo numbers, including "Gabriel" and the title tune, exhibited peerless professionalism, and the beloved epics – "Being Alive" and a roof-raising "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" – were every bit as monumental as you'd hope.
 
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