Patti LuPone never hesitates to speak her mind, even when she’s on camera for an Oral History retrospective of her amazing career. On June 3, the two-time Tony winner spent an hour in conversation with Broadway.com Senior Editor Kathy Henderson at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in an event sponsored by the League of Professional Theatre Women. The resulting video will be placed in the NYPL archive, but we can’t resist summarizing a few highlights:
American Horror Story: LuPone revealed details of her forthcoming guest stint in the third season of American Horror Story, which will film this summer in New Orleans. Although the season has been dubbed “Coven,” she will not play a witch; instead, she will be the personification of the religious right, “like Piper Laurie in Carrie.” LuPone expressed excitement about joining a cast that includes Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett.
Bullets Over Broadway: During the question-and-answer session, an audience member asked the star about rumors that she might play Dianne Wiest’s Oscar-winning role of diva actress Helen Sinclair in the musical adaptation of Bullets Over Broadway, due on Broadway in Spring 2014. LuPone replied that she auditioned for the part, but “Woody Allen didn’t see it.”
Evita: LuPone said that fear of the title role’s vocal demands made the Broadway premiere production of Evita a difficult experience and that she and her close friend Mandy Patinkin (Che) struggled to add depth to their characterizations. “I can sing the role better now than when I was 30,” she added.
Sunset Boulevard: Not surprisingly, LuPone hasn’t forgiven Andrew Lloyd Webber for replacing her and London co-star Kevin Anderson in the Broadway production of Sunset Boulevard. “Prozac and therapy” helped. Years later, she had an uncomfortable encounter with Glenn Close at a Christmas party thrown by Whoopi Goldberg and Frank Langella, but the two Normas had a warmer conversation when seated together at the 2011 Kennedy Center Honors.
Gypsy: Chatting about her triumphant performance as Momma Rose in the 2008 revival of Gypsy, LuPone recalled being asked by director Sam Mendes to play the role in his 2003 Broadway mounting. LuPone said yes, and then was surprised to read in the paper that Bernadette Peters had been cast. Mendes sent her a frosty letter, which LuPone kept in her files. Five years later, she felt that she was too old for the part, but the story ended happily when LuPone and co-stars Boyd Gaines (Herbie) and Laura Benanti (Louise) took home Tonys.