Cabaret Festival Review: Patti LuPone – Don’t Monkey with Broadway


Presented by Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed 21 June 2018

She walks on stage…for the hundredth time? Thousandth? Somehow “millionth” doesn’t seem too outrageous. Patti LuPone propels into Don’t Monkey with Broadway, a song that reflects back on the iconic strip with love, and turns to the future with a shudder. It would wrong though to assume that what follows is just a nostalgia trip. LuPone’s voice flows through the years like a river, and collects up some gems that might have otherwise been forgotten. This is a brilliant show from the greatest of the great.

Smile at a stranger. See what happens. The answer is rapturous applause and adoring faces. A quick flash of LuPone’s smile melts the entire audience, who as a whole are won over by her effortless charm and easy manner. LuPone’s classless grace neatly threads together songs of different styles and genres, making an enjoyable suite of music. It doesn’t matter the song, if it was written for a man or a woman, society member or factory worker—LuPone embodies the character behind the song naturally, and can flip from one to another with ease.

Yes, there are the well-known songs from shows such as Gypsy, Sweet Charity, West Side Story—I tensed and whispered “Oh my god she’s singing it” when the strains of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina started—but some took the audience by surprise, such as Meadowlark from little-known Stephen Schwartz musical The Baker’s Wife, or what was arguably the highlight of the show, Millworker from Working. A certain Sondheim section in the middle also surprised me by making lyrical joins I’d never noticed; a portrait of an artist, by another.

Don’t Monkey with Broadway was an incredibly refined performance. This is reflected in the closing numbers. The Ladies Who Lunch is met with cheers, and seems set to cap off the night—then LuPone gathers the choir together, to sing without the aid of microphones Some Other Time. It’s remarkably intimate, and summarises the love that audiences feel from LuPone.

We’ll catch up some other time. We’ll be waiting.

Reviewed by C J McLean
Twitter: @cjmclean_

Rating: 5/5

Venue:  Festival Theatre
Season:  One night only, 21 June 2018
Duration:  1hr 50mins
Tickets:  $109.90


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