At the beginning of Patti Lupone‘s Far Away Places, she tells the audience that "It’s Just the Gypsy in My Soul," that made her take the journey from the suburbs of New York City to the Great White Way, at that time so seedy she "had to step over bodies to get in the stage door." She then proceeded to take the audience at Schimmel Center (Pace University) on a journey of the imagination and spirit, lifted by song and her own larger-than-life personality.
This trip included stops at Paris (Cole Porter’s "I Love Paris), Constantinople (Nat Simon and Jimmy Kennedy’s humorous "Istanbul, Not Constantinople"), Amsterdam (Jacque Brel’s "Amsterdam") and the "Supermarket in Old Peking," again by Porter.
There was also a stop in Berlin with Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht ‘s "Pirate Jenny" from The Threepenny Opera, and a longer stay with "Surabaya Johnny" and "Bilbao Song" from the same collaborator’s Happy End, with a English lyrics by Marc Blitzstein.
Lupone had a bit of fun in Paris with the playful "I Regret Everything," a parody of Edith Piaf’s "Je Ne Regrette Rien." But if Piaf would not have been amused (something one doubts), Lupone certainly made up for that transgression with her passionate rendition of Piaf’s iconic "Hymn to Love."
Not all the places Lupone visited were exotic. Her "Me and Bobby McGee" had none of Janis Joplin’s hoarse desperation, but accompanied by Larry’s Saltzman’s guitar, Lupone gave the song a freewheeling exuberance that made one want to take pack up and take to the road.
Such a variety of songs requires an eclectic combination of instruments. Accompanying musical director Joseph Thalken on piano were Andy Stein on violin, Larry Saltzman on guitars & banjo, Antony Geralis on keyboard & accordion and Paul Pizzuti on percussion.
Still, it’s Lupone who owns every bit of the stage. She struts across it, left to right and back again, with eyes cast up to the balcony and across the orchestra, as if this were her home, as indeed it is.
Far Away Places *****
May 9 at Schimmel Center at Pace University, 3 Spruce St., between Park Row & Gold St. Series information: 212-346-1715 (B.O.) or 866-811-4111 or www.OvationTix.com
More information: www.pattilupone.net