Patti LuPone brings her "Far Away Places" tour to the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis, playing two shows each this Thursday and Friday night. I was fortunate enough to attend the first show on Thursday, and it was fantastic. I've seen her twice before - in Sweeney Todd on Broadway, and at Orchestra Hall a few years ago. Listening to her tonight I realized that she is truly a master of her craft, and her craft is telling stories. Each song she sings is like a little play that she performs, and when she's singing, you get the feeling that she believes every word. After over 40 years working on Broadway, she knows how to work a crowd and has supreme control over her instrument. She has a way of caressing a phrase that's so unique and utterly spellbinding.
The last time I saw Patti, at Orchestra Hall, I seem to remember that she sang mainly musical theater songs, so that's what I was expecting tonight. But this is a different concert. The only musical theater songs on the set list are "By the Sea" from Sweeney Todd and a few numbers from her most recent Broadway show (which she called was a daring misfire, and seemed to have great affection for), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. The majority of the set list is comprised of standards, most of which I was unfamiliar with (my table mate* pointed out that several of them are Kurt Weill songs). While I was hoping that she would belt out a "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" or "Everything's Coming Up Roses," I couldn't possibly be disappointed. She sold me on every song she sang and had me completely hooked by her expressive and effortless delivery of these great songs, some fast and funny, some sad and beautiful. (She recorded this concert live at 54 Below, available here.)
Patti has two more shows Friday night at the Dakota (tickets available here); go check it out to witness a master at work in a lovely space (with delicious food and beverages available throughout the show). And if you're in the St. Cloud area, you can see her at my alma mater, St. Ben's, this Saturday night for her "Coulda, woulda, shoulda... played that role" concert (featuring more musical theater selections, click here for more info).
*By some stroke of good fortune I was seated at a table with Bain Boehlke, Artistic Director of the Jungle Theater, and frequent collaborator Wendy Lehr (soon to be playing the title role in Driving Miss Daisy at the Jungle). I'm happy to report that these two Ivey Lifetime Achievement Award winners are lovely people in addition to being talented theater artists. It was an extra treat to share this wonderful evening with them!