Patti LuPone: Far Away Places
Live at 54 Below
Performer: Patti LaPone
Distributed By: Broadway Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When Broadway Records and 54 Below released a live album series featuring some of the brightest stars on Broadway in concerts recorded live at the Broadway nightclub, located just a few blocks from Times Square, I was intrigued. However, my first introduction to this series, Norbert Leo Butz: Memory and Mayhem, wasn't as enjoyable as I hoped. What would the next album in the series be like? I wouldn't know until I checked out Patti Lupone: Far Away Places: Live at 54 Below.
An actress from New York, Patti LuPone has great success in television and film (Life Goes On, Witness, Driving Miss Daisy, Wise Guys), but most people know her for her performances on and off Broadway. Nominated for a Tony Award in her performances in Sweeney Todd, Anything Goes and Sunset Boulevard, LuPone has won Tony Awards for her work in Les MisÚrables, Evita and Gyspy. I, personally, loved her performance as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd and couldn't wait to hear this album.
Far Away Places has a theme, just as the title suggests. The songs take you abroad to places like Italy, England and the Orient, but its not just the song performances and LuPone's strong vocals that wow you. It's the fun beyond the songs that grab you. When Patti Lupone reminisces about the old days of Broadway and her earlier acting experiences, you can't help but laugh. She gets the audience involved and purposefully adds humor to her act to keep the audience there. I always loved Bette Midler's performances for that reason and Patti LuPone has that cabaret act down.
There are some incredibly enjoyable songs on this album, such as I Wanna Be Around, in which a jilted lover expresses (often times rather emphatically, eliciting much laughter) her hope to be around when the same thing happens to her ex. Pirate Jenny tells the tale of a woman that everyone in town looks down on and treats like dirt until they realize that she is a scout for a band of pirates. I Regret Everything, complete with the mini-dialogue that informs us LuPone is just as talented in the accent category as Meryl Streep, is absolutely hysterical. I was also surprised to enjoy and sing loudly along with LuPone's fast-paced version of the Bee Gees classic Nights on Broadway.
Patti Lupone: Far Away Places: Live at 54 Below is a fun album with great songs and banter that I have already enjoyed listening to three times since I received it. Fans of Patti Lupone will enjoy this concert immensely. I, for one, would love to see a video version of this concert come to light as I would love to see the facial expressions and body movements that elicited laughter from the audience. LuPone is a great performer and this album does much to highlight that fact. My impression of the Live at 54 album series is greatly improved after listening to Far Away Places.