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Music Review

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Don't Monkey With Broadway


Artist: Patti LuPone
Label: Broadway Records
RRP: £12.99
Release Date: 29 September 2017

Has she still got it ? That’s a question I always ask myself when I see a new album by an ‘experienced’ Broadway performer, or any performer come to that matter. All too often, we see albums or productions that show the leading actor in a slightly less glowing light than we remember them. I was excited to read that Broadway Records were to release a new concert recording by Patti LuPone, a great Broadway exponent, but would it live up to one of my favourite albums of all time, her wonderful Live recording from 1993.

Two-time Tony Award and Grammy Award winner Patti LuPone returns to her roots with her new double-disc live album, Don’t Monkey With Broadway. Having just starred on Broadway in War Paint, and having taken her rightful place as a Broadway legend, her style is stamped with an implicit credo: all guts, all glory. Recorded in concert in her hometown of Northport, Long Island, at the John W. Engeman Theatre, Ms. LuPone takes you behind the curtain on her life-long love affair with Broadway and her concern for what the Great White Way is becoming today. Produced by Michael J. Moritz Jr., Don’t Monkey With Broadway features musical direction and arrangements by Joseph Thalken. Ms. LuPone is also joined by the Northport High School Tour Choir.

It’s difficult to put into words how stunning this recording is. For too long, LuPone has been infamous for her arguments and outbursts, and has become more renowned for her apparent poor diction than her voice. This concert features none of that, I’m thankful to say. It’s a crystal clear mix of wonderful Broadway numbers and an insight into her long career, and her thoughts on the current state of Broadway.

Many of these numbers we’ve heard before, and if I were putting together a single CD highlights of the concert, I would have probably left off. But here we get the full double CD of the full concert, so it’s right we have 'Don’t Cry For Me Argentina', 'Some People', and especially 'Meadowlark' present and correct, and showing she can still deliver them, in some ways better than ever.

The new songs are equally as outstanding. 'A Lot Of Livin’ To Do' from Bye Bye Birdie is glorious, delivered with gusto. Equally stunning is the medley of I Could Write A Book and There’s 'A Small Hotel', and a couple of Sondheim numbers that I think are new to her - 'Anyone Can Whistle' and 'Another Hundred People'. She also throws in 'Trouble' from The Music Man, just to prove there are no diction issues here.

Again, Broadway Records have come up with the goods - an album to equal her previous Live recordings, and with a sound quality to equal some studio recordings. A special mention to LuPone’s pianist and musical director Joseph Thalken - the playing here is to be marvelled at. And a shout out to Robbie Rozelle for another killer design.

Yes, she has still got it - and some.


Ian Gude

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