Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Phoenix

Patti LuPone: A Life in Notes
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Review by Gil Benbrook

Also see Gil's reviews of School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play and The Diary of Anne Frank, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (School Edition)

Patti LuPone
Photo courtesy of Patti LuPone
Patti LuPone has won three Tony Awards, appeared in close to a dozen Broadway shows, and acted in numerous TV shows and films. She has also presented a number of cabaret shows in clubs and concert venues over the years and her latest, Patti LuPone: A Life in Notes, recently played at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts less than a week after she performed the show at Carnegie Hall. Like her previous shows, this one is poignant and personal with excellent scripted patter that gives her plenty of moments to reflect on the events of her life and to show off her sense of humor. It's also filled with over two dozen songs that she delivers impeccably.

At the top of the evening, LuPone mentioned that this show would be about the notes in her life: the high notes, the low notes, and even the bad notes. Over the course of the almost two-hour concert, she talked about her life growing up on Long Island, her desire to get to Broadway, the loves she's had over the years, her career, and her family. She also found songs, many familiar but also a few that I believe many audience members weren't aware of (including myself), to signify what she called the "touchstones" of her journey.

The first act focused on her life in Long Island and her earlier years in New York City, while the second half focused on her Broadway performances and her family. That second act opened with a sensationally sung trio of songs that LuPone is famous for, all of which won her either Tony Awards or an Olivier Award: "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" from Evita; "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables; and "The Ladies Who Lunch" from Company. Her extraordinary vocal prowess, passionate phrasing, and intense emotional connection to the lyrics and the characters made for a thrilling part of the evening with all three receiving spontaneous standing ovations from various audience members. This section also included a bouncy delivery of "Anything Goes."

While nothing could top that section of the concert, there were many other songs that stood out. These included an earnest rendition of Leon Russell's "A Song for You," a stirring performance of Janis Ian's beautiful and bittersweet "Stars," and two songs that Bob Dylan wrote, the aching "Make You Feel My Love," which Billy Joel made into a hit, and the vibrantly sung "Forever Young," which she said was a way of looking back at the many songs and notes that live in her memory. Her moving version of the Cyndi Lauper hit "Time After Time" was part of a trio of songs she dedicated to her family, while her soaring take on "The Man That Got Away" proved a way for her to note the men she'd loved and lost along the way. While her bright and bouncy "Some People" from Gypsy wasn't part of the Broadway section of the concert, it did serve as a nice segue in the first half of the show to portray her drive to get out of Northport, Long Island.

Other songs included a poignant delivery of Cole Porter's "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" that she sang as a memory of her friends she lost in the 1980s to AIDS, a gorgeous rendition of Burt Bacharach's "Alfie," and a profound delivery of the Beatles' "In My Life" that she sang as an encore. There were also many humorous moments in between the heavier ballads in the show, including "Come-on a My House," "Teen Angel," and the crowd-pleasing "Those Were the Days." Three lesser-known songs, Kate McGarrigle's "Saratoga Summer Song," Marc Blitzstein's "I Wish It So," and James Shelton's "Lilac Wine," along with "Alfie," depicted her earlier years in New York City going to Juilliard, working with The Acting Company, and her summers spent at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in residence with the New York City Ballet.

Jeffrey Richman's well-crafted script touched on the many highlights in LuPone's life and career with patter that was succinct and to the point. Scott Wittman's perceptive direction was complemented by Joseph Thalken's gorgeous arrangements and spotless music direction, and Brad Phillips played several instruments with impeccable skill. LuPone also looked gorgeous in Catherine Zuber's costume designs. As usual for concerts at Scottsdale Arts, the sound quality was impeccable with every note and lyric crystal clear and every seat providing a clear view of the stage.

At the end of the concert, LuPone mentioned that if a life is in three acts–a beginning, a middle, and an end–she knows that she's in her final one, with most of her days in the rearview mirror. However, based on her impressive performance, and even though LuPone will turn 75 next week, I have to imagine there are still plenty of shows, concerts, and life still ahead of her.

Patti LuPone: A Life in Notes was presented at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts on April 16, 2024. Information for upcoming concerts at the SCPA can be found at Performances in Patti LuPone's "A Life in Notes" tour can be found at