January 19, 2019

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Patti LuPone, From Broadway to the Open Road

Patti LuPone, From Broadway to the Open Road
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Patti LuPone entered into the annals of Broadway history when she appeared in the 1979 production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, “Evita,” playing Eva Perón and winning the Tony Award that season for best actress in a musical. (In 2018, she gave a mesmerizing performance of that show’s “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” at the Grammy Awards, in tribute to Mr. Lloyd Webber, temporarily patching up a two-decade feud that dated back to when she was replaced by Glenn Close in the composer’s Broadway-bound musical “Sunset Boulevard.”)

Over the years, she has returned to Broadway in such roles as Momma Rose in “Gypsy” (her second Tony), Mrs. Lovett in Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd” and, most recently, Helena Rubinstein in “War Paint.” Currently Ms. LuPone, 69, is starring as Joanne in the gender-switching London production of Sondheim’s “Company” (Bobby is now Bobbie), which has received rave reviews, particularly for Ms. LuPone, and has sparked reports of a Broadway transfer next season. The actress is also the author of “Patti LuPone: A Memoir.”

Like all working actors, Ms. LuPone travels a lot, which she greatly enjoys (well, except for the flying bit). “I’m a traveler,” she says. “I’m curious. I want to see as many different cultures, costumes, ceremonies, and landscapes as possible. I want to know why we are different and how we are the same.”

In a recent email exchange, she talked about some of her favorite travel spots, how she reduces the stress of life on the road and why she expects her hotel room to be ready for her, no matter what time she arrives.

When you travel, are you looking for adventure, relaxation, culture — all three?

All three. My first priority is to adjust to any time difference, so I rest. Culture and adventure hold second place equally in my travels. I read a lot and I find that I’m interested in visiting places that are depicted in those books. For instance, after reading George Orwell’s “Burmese Days,” I made a trip to Myanmar when it was still called Burma. I went to Bali, Indonesia, because I grew up listening to the musical “South Pacific” and the song “Bali Hai,” knowing full well Bali had nothing to do with the song. But the word “Bali” was in it. I love green so I always travel outside of cities. I want to see daily life, drink local wine, eat local produce. In the cites I try to find the path less traveled. Once, I took a ferry to get to the Museum of Everything exhibit in Hobart, Tasmania, so I had a peaceful ride on the water and then a wild ride in the artists’ imaginative minds in the museum. Those are the experiences I look for.

Do you sleep on the plane? Read? Watch movies?

I sleep on planes. I hate to fly.

Do you use Wi-Fi on the plane or do you use that time in the air to disconnect?

I disconnect on flights.

Are there certain things you always take with you?

I carry a pillow, a humidi-flyer, Burt’s Bees lip balm, hand and face cream, my computer and my passport. Also, the book I’m reading, sleeping pills, an eye mask and ear plugs, a protein bar if the airline menu looks suspicious.

Checked luggage or carry on?

If it’s a holiday, and not for work, only carry-on. Rimowa luggage is the only way to go.

What have been your favorite trips?

Southeast Asia and any place my husband and son are with me. And, of course, LSD in Central Park in the ’70s. How can you beat that?

Favorite hotel?

The Peninsula in Hong Kong, and the Surf and Sand in Laguna Beach, Calif. But actually any hotel that welcomes one at any time of the day and night and understands stress levels and a desire to be left alone is my favorite.

You’re now in London with “Company.” Any particular spot in that city that you try to visit when you have the chance?

The Columbia Road flower market, which is about so much more than flowers. And Hampstead Heath. The Heath is a magical 800 acres of land in North London. When I was doing “Les Misérables,” I lived right across the road from the Heath. I wandered into it every day. It just reverberates with history and beauty and my imagination goes slightly haywire in the thicket. Paths that lead somewhere but not always. I would get lost frequently but I always managed to end up at Kenwood House.

Where do you want to go that you haven’t gone to yet?

My list: 1. Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal and Tibet. 2. Drive the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Vancouver Island. 3. Spend three months on Capri. 4. Drive the Great Ocean Road in Australia. 5. Drive the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland.



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