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Patti LA Broadway legend of the highest order, of course. A figure of unparalleled theatrical stature, clearly. And it goes without saying that this is a woman with extraordinary and unique vocal prowess. How the hell can Lupone possibly live up to her own reputation? Well, it’s simple, she just does what she does; she stands, she sings and you get it. It’s as much a masterclass as a performance, her asides with her accompanist – the dryly witty and surprisingly sexy Seth Rudetsky – illuminate much of what goes into her work. He runs around like the gay kid who just got given his favourite toy to play with at his bar-mitzvah, which is pretty much what he is. But she knows her stuff and knows her own worth. Of course, it makes her formidable – to a conductor she disliked: “Do you know what ‘vamp’ means? It means vamp until I’m ready.” But it also makes her vulnerable – the emotion as she revisits Sunset Boulevard, from which she was famously sacked, is very real; and it brings a playful self-deprecation as she joyously celebrates her terrible cockney accent in a singalong version of It’s a Fine Life. She’s honest and funny in her stories: on coping with losing her voice, “I smoked a joint”; on Claude-Michel Schönberg in Les Mis vocal rehearsals, “he always turned up smoking a fucking cigar”; on the thrill of meeting Streisand, “all she said to me was ‘nice glasses’ and I never met her again”. When she performs, like any actor of worth, she is always in the moment, discovering the material afresh – which is particualry remarkable when the material is as familiar as Les Mis, Evita and Oliver!. You see how she places her famous vocal tricks only when justified by the character’s place in the song. I Dreamed a Dream is sung full out, but filled with delicate emotional complexity; Rainbow High is a lesson in stamina and power, and Gypsy‘s Some People becomes a complicated, sturdy character-driven narrative. On Thursday night, she sang with a chap playing Magaldi in a touring production of Evita, which was lots of fun but the real climax was With One Look from Sunset Boulevard, her voice breaking with emotion at the first line, she’s suddenly in a high vocal range, fragile, sad, desparate and deeply moving. Having the ultra-talented Mr Rudetsky with her clearly works, challenging and surprising her and keeping the show lively. I went along interested, but ambiguous, I left a huge admirer.

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