From her triumphant portrayal of Evita to her Tony-winning turn as Momma Rose in Gypsy, Patti LuPone is a true Broadway legend. So when the Drama League honored this larger-than-life diva at its gala on Monday, we asked some of her colleagues for their favorite over-the-top LuPone anecdotes.
Laura Benanti: “Well, the first time I ever went out with Patti we were rehearsing for Citi Center Encores in Gypsy, and she was like, ‘Let’s go out after the show and get a drink.’ And I’m like, ‘Okay!’ I think I was 27 or something like that. And so we go across the street — I hadn’t eaten all day because I had to play a stripper so I was trying to get really skinny — and she ordered two double vodka and sodas. Two of them. I was like, ‘Me too.’ And four hours later I was vomiting out the window of a cab. [Laughs.] My husband said that he came in the next morning and I was just lying on the bottom of the shower. And he said, ‘What happened to you?’ And I said, ‘Patti LuPone.’ [Laughs.]”
Chad Kimball: “I accidentally walked in on her using the restroom at Angus McIndoe, and I went in, paused, kind of went, ‘That’s Patti LuPone,’ and turned and left. I turned and walked away. But, uh, that’s when we met. [Laughs.]”
Daniel Reichard: “I met Patti when she came to see Jersey Boys, and I remember knowing that she was out in the audience, and then coming out of my dressing room to go home for the night and her bounding up the stairs. You know, most of the stars wait down at the bottom of the stairs, and she just bounded up the stairs. And, I mean, for me in sort of the most astounding experience of my career, having that moment where an icon like Patti LuPone is bounding up the stairs to see you in your dressing room is amazing.”
Christopher Seiber: “We had done a reading of Annie Get Your Gun a long time ago; I think she wanted to see if it fit her at all, and the director asked me to do Frank opposite her Annie. And I was like 24 at the time, and she’s a little older than I am, but it was really cool because I got to sing ‘Old-Fashioned Wedding’ with Patti LuPone, and I still have the cassette tape of her and I singing, [sings] ‘We’ll have an old-fashioned wedding.’ And she’s going, [sings] “I want a wedding in a big church, and bridesmaids …” It was fantastic, you know, a 24-year-old gay kid going, ‘Oh, my god, I’m with Patti LuPone! This is amazing!’ [Laughs.]”
When LuPone herself arrived, she revealed that she, too, had had those thrills when meeting her idols, including Ethel Merman. “Ann Miller, when she was doing Sugar Babies and I was doing Evita, loved the fact that she was on Broadway, so she would throw luncheons, and she partook in everything that Broadway, at that time, had to offer,” LuPone told us. “And I remember one luncheon upstairs at the 21 Club where Ann invited all of the principal players on Broadway, and I was there, and she made a toast to Ethel, a farewell toast, and Ethel said, ‘Ah, hell, Ann, I’m just going to Long Island!’ I remember, I’m going, where am I? I’m too young to be sitting with these people, and I can’t believe I have the privilege to watch Ann Miller toast Ethel Merman.”