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Hey there! It’s me, Heidi.
Last weekend I went on an adventure that was a little risky. It was risky because it had the potential to lead me to a job in a new city. On top of that, it was a city that I never in a bazillion years thought that I would ever want to live in (more on that city later). The job wound up not working out, but this post isn’t about that. This post is inspired by a the audiobook Patti LuPone: A Memoir that I listened to on my way there and back.
My friends who know me best, and you who are about to read this post, are aware of my undying love for Patti LuPone. Seriously. I love her. The woman is a genius. She is talented. She is hilarious. She is opinionated. She is strong. She is powerful. She is PATTI. There is absolutely no one else on Earth like Patti Lupone.
I’m such a fan of hers that I actually wrote her a letter. Yes, a crazy fan letter. Actually, it wasn’t crazy, it was honest. I think it’s important to encourage artists who you adore because there are lots of people out there who don’t appreciate the arts and, let’s get real, acting is hard WORK. That’s right. WORK. It’s a beautiful and fun art form that way too many non-artsy folk out there don’t recognize as “legit” because “they’re just playing for a living.” Sorry. No. They’re telling stories that educate, that inspire, that empower, that help audiences have a deeper understanding of what it means to be fully human. And it’s not easy. I thought she needed to know how much I appreciate her. I was expecting absolutely nothing in return and, y’all… this is what I got in the mail from her!
Yep. You’re seeing that correctly. She sent me a personalized signed photo along with a WAR PAINT playbill (the show she is currently starring in on Broadway). I damn near died when I opened the envelope and saw what was in there! Amazing.
Fortunately/unfortunately, I’ve only ever seen her perform in concert. I would absolutely love to see her in all her queen-like glory on a Broadway stage, but I am so grateful for the intimate experience that was her Broadway in New Orleans concert at NOCCA (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts).
Remember that time I told you I write for BroadwayWorld.com? Well, Mark Cortale in partnership with Seth Rudetsky put on a series of concerts with Broadway veterans each year, and Patti’s was the first that I ever attended. I had the audacity to think I was going to “review” the show. In reality, it wound up being an “oh my gosh, Patti, Patti, PATTI!” type of article. You can read the train wreck here.
My experience that evening is something I will never in a million years forget. One, because Patti. Two, because I accidentally wound up sitting with the touring cast of JERSEY BOYS. I sat there with my little notepad out prepared to write down the things I wanted to say in my article, when a truly loud and obnoxious group walks into the theatre. Please don’t sit by me, please don’t sit by me, please don’t sit by me. They sat by me. I get to talking to the sweet girl next to me, Natalie Gallo, and she informs me that they’re the touring cast of JERSEY BOYS and that the guy I had interview over the phone for an article a few days prior is sitting right behind me. Patti telling her life stories and singing things like “I Get A Kick Out of You,” “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” “Meadowlark” for which she holds claim over, “I Dreamed a Dream” that she originated in London, and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” made the evening magical and inspirational. Natalie and the rest of the JERSEY BOYS cast made it hilariously amusing. (Sidenote: She’s infamous for calling audience members out for being on their phone while she is performing and I got to witness that. Put your phones away for two hours, people!)
These weird things can only happen to me, I swear.
I don’t hate it.
All of these prior experiences with Patti made listening to her read her memoir over audiobook that much more enjoyable. I can speak for myself when I say that I tend to idolize theatre actors, place them up on a pedestal, and think their life is so grand. But, hearing their stories really reminds me, again, that THEATRE. IS. FREAKING. HARD. WORK. Some people get lucky, and that’s just the way life goes. But, Ms. LuPone’s story is anything but easy. She struggled. She studied. She loved. She lost. She learned. She fought. She had good times. She had bad times. She had fun times. She had weird times. There were roles that came easy to her, and there were roles (I’m looking at you Evita) that caused her pain… physical and otherwise. We can call her Queen Patti all we want, but she is in fact human. She’s an incredible human. But, she is human.
For all of you Broadway nerds out there who want to learn more about Patti’s journey or for those of you who know nothing about theatre but are in need of some inspiration in your life, pick up her book! Share it with other people! Or better yet, get the audio book. She narrates it herself, so it’s as close to sitting down on the couch with her and shooting the breeze as it’s going to get!
That’s all she wrote about Patti for now, folks.
I do intend to continue “Broadway Babes” as a series and to bring to light some of my favorite women on the stage. Stay tuned for the next one!
Until next time,