Patti LuPone is Broadway royalty. Her proverbial mantle glistens like a tiara studded with the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Actress in a Musical and the Drama League Award for Outstanding Performance of the Season for her role as Rose in the most recent production of "Gypsy."
Before returning to Broadway this fall in the new David Mamet play, "The Anarchist," she takes her dynamo act on the road and down to Strathmore this weekend in her latest one-woman show, "Matters of the Heart."
"The show is a narrative about love with songs about the various aspects of love," she said. "This particular show was developed by Scott Wittman and the late Dick Gallagher.
More than just a ticking off of show tunes, however, LuPone tells a story through carefully chosen material. She, along with the two friends she fondly refers to as "Scotty" and "Dickey," each brought suggestions to the table when preparing the groundwork for her musical narrative.
|Patti LuPone: 'Matters of the Heart'|
|» Where: Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda|
|» When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday|
|» Info: $40 to $85; 301-581-5100; strathmore.org|
"It's about listening to the music," she continued. "I have to be moved by [the song] in order to tell the story. Each song is a story, and you are the star and the narrator."
And so, with piano and a string quartet backing her dynamic voice, she lays out her love story and advances the plot through contemporary songs such as "God Only Knows," by the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" and Randy Newman's "Real Emotional Girl." She also adds songs by composers Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein and Stephen Sondheim.
Interestingly, LuPone doesn't have a favorite composer, noting, "It's too limiting."
In "Matters of the Heart," she readily speaks of feeding off audience response.
"I think an actor's work is half done in the rehearsal room and the other half when an audience shows up," she noted. "I want to know [if] the audience is getting it ... because that's a theatrical experience. If they're not, you have to figure out what you're doing wrong."
Given the fact that a New York critic applauded her revue as "an extraordinary concert" and one even called her "a performer in total command of her voice," she's obviously doing it all perfectly."