The first track of Patti LuPone’s new album, “Far Away Places,” is called “Gypsy in My Soul,” and the Broadway star, who opens this week at Live at the Rrazz, has lived the role in both upper- and lower-case versions.
It’s been more than 40 years since LuPone first appeared on Broadway, launching a career she describes as “neither strategic, nor just doing what I want to do.”
Her druthers, right now, would be to still be performing on Broadway in what was a short-lived premiere of David
Mamet’s two-hander “The Anarchist,” opposite Debra Winger. The show closed in December after just two weeks.
It was a rude awakening for LuPone.
“Much to my chagrin and surprise, I found out that Broadway is now run by Wall Street,” LuPone says. “We used to have investors. We used to call them ‘angels,’ but now they’re called ‘producers,’ and with absolutely no experience, and, I don’t think, any love of the theater.”
She still sounds a bit incredulous describing “some guy from Wall Street who thought he could sit in on rehearsals and give David Mamet notes. I’m stymied right now. I’m gun-shy about Broadway.”
LuPone has always been plainspoken — opinionated, some say — but she has the talent to back it up. She made an indelible mark in Broadway history with “Evita” in 1979 and has scored personal triumphs in New York and London with “Les Misérables,” “Anything Goes,” “Sunset Boulevard,” “Sweeney Todd” and multiple editions of “Gypsy.”
LuPone is also one of the very few stage actresses of stature who moves easily and regularly between musicals and plays, in addition to television, film and concert hall work.
On long-ago Saturdays during the “Evita” run, the soon-to-be Tony winner would finish her “day job” as Eva Peron and head down to Les Mouches, an intimate nightclub, to perform a still-discussed solo club act. The show was so memorable that almost three decades later, tapes of it received a commercial CD release.
This time last year, LuPone returned to the nightclub milieu to christen 54 Below, once the infamous Studio 54.
She’s serving a similar role here as the first major headliner booked into the new Rrazz venue on Van Ness Avenue.
“So I’ve never been strategic about my career because the surprise element has been much more interesting than if I planned it,” she says. “I never got the role I wanted. I got the role I was supposed to play.”