November 10, 2004

Patti LuPone

Feinstein's at the Regency; 150 capacity; $60

Presented inhouse. Opened and reviewed Nov. 8, 2004. Runs through Nov. 20.

Patti LuPone has returned to Feinstein's at the Regency to tell the rest of the story. Last spring the Broadway diva appeared at the posh Park Avenue supper club with a parcel of bleeding heart ballads. The sequel set to "The Lady With the Torch" again examines the enormous legacy of songs that tell tales of unrequited love, broken hearts and love on the rocks. "I wasn't finished," mused LuPone.

Looking casually smart in black tights and a red silk blouse with the sleeves rolled up, the singer appeared more relaxed and assured than in her previous turn and created a warming bond with the audience right from her snappy opening with Willie Nelson's "Nightlife."

It isn't altogether as sad an affair as it might appear to be. Feeling sorry for yourself may be best defined by the Matt Dennis saloon song "Everything Happens to Me," but the lady takes it at an unusually bright, jaunty tempo, letting life's little disillusionments roll off the shoulder. With a playfully raucous vaudeville spirit, she takes "I Wanna Be Around" for a witty turn.

"Do It Again" becomes a theater piece in which she reveals both the humor and the sexual tension. And "My Buddy," a song that's been around for a mere 80 years-plus, doesn't soften a long night with the big hurt.

LuPone did not completely harness that trademark capacity to belt. With Cole Porter's "So in Love," the big Broadway sound filled the room, and though it was not acknowledged, it served to many in the room as a warming tribute to the memory of late MGM film star Howard Keel.

LuPone's all time favorite chanteuse was Edith Piaf, whom she remembered with obscure chanson "I Regret Everything," which segued into Porter's "I Love Paris" and "C'est Magnifique." Candlelight and champagne softened the sting of a torch song, and LuPone wiped away the tears with her insightful performance. Even when it came time to pay the check, she strolled among the tables begging, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?"

Musical director-piano, Chris Fenwick.Conceived and directed by Scott Wottman.

No comments: