We all have issues, and New York writer-director Ben Rimalower deals with his creatively in “Patti Issues,” his autobiographical show framed by diva worship.
His “Patti” is Patti LuPone, who has said, “I don’t know if I was a conduit for him, but it has less to do with me than with how Ben came into himself, given the stuff he had to deal with as a kid.”
The “Issues” revolve around how Rimalower’s childhood changed when his father came out as gay and exited the family, and how Rimalower worked though his own sexual identity in the wake of those events.
Via Broadway recordings, LuPone helped transport young Ben to a more palatable world. “The drama in my family was very operatic,” he says. “I think I needed something as powerful as Patti to distract me from what was going on.”
Rimalower, who studied theater at UC Berkeley (“I didn’t want to wait until my senior year to be able to direct,” he jokes), founded BareStage, a still-operating student-run performance group.
He will perform a benefit performance of “Patti Issues” for BareStage coupled with a master class in a reunion that will be frustratingly brief. He says, “There’s so much I’m gonna try to squeeze into 48 hours, because I really did leave my heart there.”