With the news that Broadway and general musical theatre legend Patti LuPone will be gracing the London stage in Company from next autumn, we take a look back on five of the star's iconic roles on stage.
It’s currently the longest-running musical in the West End, and Fantine is possibly the iconic musical theatre character. A down-on-her-luck factory worker who turns to prostitution after losing her job, actresses who are lucky enough to play the part will be found belting the classic solo number “I Dreamed a Dream”. LuPone was the first actress to play the character when it opened in the West End in 1985, alongside Colm Wilkinson, Roger Allam and Michael Ball. LuPone has said that she didn’t reprise the role in any other city because her time in the London production was “the perfect theatrical experience”.
Before Fantine, LuPone starred in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita. In the original Broadway production in 1979, She played Eva Peron, Argentine president Juan Peron’s second wife. LuPone won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for the role, but she didn’t have the best of times in the production. In an interview with Graham Norton in 2013, LuPone spoke candidly about her time in the musical describing it as a “tough” experience, adding it was the “worst experience of her life” because it was a role she didn’t want to play.
Despite claiming she thought Lloyd Webber “hated women” whilst she was performing Evita, she took on the role of Norma Desmond in the original London production of Sunset Boulevard in 1993. Desmond is a silent film star who sees an opportunity to return to the screen with the help of a young writer. LuPone was nominated for an Olivier for the role, however when the musical transferred to Broadway, Glenn Close was chosen over LuPone to take on the role. LuPone revisited the musical in 2013 during a series of performances at the Leicester Square Theatre.
LuPone has also appeared in Sondheim’s musical Sweeney Todd in the musical’s second Broadway revival in 2005. She played pie show owner Mrs Lovett, with Michael Cerveris playing the title character. The above video is not of the Broadway production, however. In the early noughties, LuPone appeared in a number of concert performances of the musical with George Hearn, known for playing Albin in La Cage aux Folles.
Stephen Sondheim’s Gypsy was revived on Broadway in 2008 with LuPone taking on the lead role, Rose. Based on the memoirs of the striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee, the musical is about Rose who tries to bring up two daughters as stage performers. But this was not the first time she appeared in Gypsy; when the actress was a teenager, she played Louise in a high school production. Talking about the character Rose, LuPone has said: “I do not see her as a monster at all - she may do monstrous things, but that does not make a monster.”