Las Vegas Sun

July 31, 2014

Currently: 100° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Q+A: PATTI LuPONE

Who: "Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda ... Played That Part," starring Patti LuPone

When: 7:30 tonight through Sunday

Where: Suncoast Showroom

Tickets: $29.95; 636-7075

Broadway has changed since Patti LuPone first tread the boards of the Great White Way.

Economics, culture and tastes are not what they were when she won a Tony for her role as Eva in Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Evita" in 1979.

But the 58-year-old actress and singer continues to ply her trade enthusiastically and with hope for the future.

LuPone is a graduate of The Juilliard School and in the '70s was a member of John Houseman's Acting Company. She has appeared with touring companies, on London's West End (in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical adaptation of "Sunset Boulevard"), in concerts and in a long list of Broadway productions, including "Oliver!" and "The Cradle Will Rock."

We caught up with LuPone by phone in Philadelphia, where she was doing a show with "Evita" co-star Mandy Patinkin.

Tell us about your show in Vegas

It's going to be in a cabaret room at the Suncoast. Just me and a piano. Nothing but show tunes, show tune after show tune after show tune. It's a show called "Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda ... Played That Part." It's most of the songs that I did sing on Broadway and the roles I wished I could have played, woulda played, shoulda played but of course didn't play. Hopefully the Las Vegas audiences will laugh, because it's a funny show.

Do you have any favorite roles?

I don't have a favorite for anything. It's too limiting. I'm lucky to do the variety of shows I do in the variety of mediums. I just am constantly surprised by my career and the directions it takes me. I'm venturing into opera. Don't think it's going to continue, but this late in my career three operas have manifested themselves.

What do you think of the changes Broadway has undergone in recent years?

I think that somebody thought you could make a killing on Broadway and therefore the thrust now is how do we make as much money as possible as opposed to being the testing ground or the kind of theater that is the art of America. It's never been a place where one made a lot of money. Not because of the fact that you couldn't make money, but a lot more playwrights and lyricists and composers were able to ply their craft because they were able to get on Broadway without the threat of failure. But it seems to me that if you do not succeed and you fail, you don't get a second chance on Broadway anymore. So the producers go for what they think the audience wants without ever including the audience in this decision. And so there's a lot more spectacle on Broadway, but it sells out. But it's to the neglect of the young voices of America that would, in fact, determine and create the culture. There's a lot of crap on Broadway.

Is off-Broadway any better?

I think off -Broadway is the same. But I don't think you can kill the theater. It will survive all of these different trends because it's sort of just inherent in us - it's human nature to tell stories, so you can't kill it. Broadway will evolve into something else, but it has become so outrageously expensive to even produce anything, which I don't understand because the money isn't going into the actors' pockets, that's for damn sure. So I don't know what it is, why a musical has to be between $8 million and $15 million. I don't get it. I'm not getting that paycheck. I don't understand the numbers. For instance, a new musical is coming in where a marketer suggested a radical change to the plot in order to sell more tickets. The creators began to listen to the marketer until the director put a stop to it. Everybody's involved in the decision - and the decisions have to do with how to make more money, to sell more tickets. It's greed.

Do you have a future on Broadway?

I'm in the middle of negotiations, which I can't talk about. I may be returning to Broadway and I may not. At this point I'm philosophical about the whole thing. I love the discipline of eight shows a week. I know where I am every night at 8 o'clock. I know how to prepare for that. I really, really like the discipline of Broadway. I'm a stage animal. I was built for the stage. It doesn't exhaust me.

If the negotiations don't work out, what then?

I have a lot of other stuff on hold, waiting to see whether I'm going back to Broadway. There are more of these gigs, like at the Suncoast. I never know. I never know how my career is going to manifest itself. I never know. It just does and I'm grateful that I can continue to work.