Whether we admit it or not, we all have things in our lives that we coulda, woulda or shoulda done. Patti LuPone has made a whole concert of her list. The two-time Tony winner ("Evita," "Gypsy") from Northport returns to Long Island for "Coulda Woulda Shoulda," songs that have eluded her so far in her career -- plus some she sang in high school and others she made famous and that made her a star.
We spoke to LuPone by phone as she was preparing for her "Lady With a Torch" concerts at Manhattan's 54 Below.
LuPone lives in Connecticut with her husband, Matthew Johnston. They have a 23-year-old son, Joshua.
What keeps you so driven at this stage of your career that you're doing a one-night stand in Patchogue just days after a 12-performance gig at 54 Below?
The mortgage. [She laughs.] But I don't see it as "driven." I'm a performer and I'm lucky that people want to see me. It's what I do.
And it's just a couple of days before your birthday. Do you still have family on Long Island?
No, but I have a ton of friends. Hopefully I'll have a chance to see a few of them.
How did you go about choosing songs for "Coulda Woulda Shoulda"?
It just manifested itself. I was doing a concert for Gay Men's Health Crisis and, besides raising money for them, I thought: Why am I on stage at Carnegie Hall? How did I end up here? So I went back through my history to the very beginning when I was a teenager in the public school system in Northport. That's where it started. Those are my musical roots. But the female roles back then were kind of insipid. Always the second banana. So I investigated what I wanted to sing and what got away. I started at 15. But for two years there was no budget. Why is it that the arts are the first thing to get cut in public schools? Still, I got to play Nellie Forbush in "South Pacific" and Fanny Brice in "Funny Girl." But mostly I found that the more interesting roles were for men.
I'm thinking of Harold Hill's "Ya Got Trouble" from "The Music Man." Did you choose it because you're not likely ever to land that role in a revival?
I just wanted to do some songs that people wouldn't associate with me. But I don't want to give anything away. It's better to leave a few surprises for the audience.
Is there anything -- a song or a show -- that you think maybe you should "notta" done?
Maybe "Sunset Boulevard."
But you won an Olivier Award for that.
And a smear campaign by Mr. Webber. [After its London run, the musical's creator, Andrew Lloyd Webber, who co-wrote "Evita," replaced LuPone with Glenn Close in Los Angeles and on Broadway.]
If Mr. Webber isn't one of your favorites, certainly Stephen Sondheim is. Was it a hoot to play Mrs. Lovett in "Sweeney Todd" while playing a musical instrument? Did you have to brush up on your tuba?
Yes, it was my band instrument in high school. Memorizing the fingering was tough. You don't usually hold a tuba while you're acting. It was great fun.
What's next for you?
A benefit reading of Tennessee Williams' "The Rose Tattoo" with Bobby Cannavale for The Acting Company April 27. And I start a play at Lincoln Center June 29, "Show of Days" by Douglas Carter Beane and directed by Jerry Zaks.
That pay off the mortgage.
[She laughs again.]
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. April 18, Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, 71 E. Main St.
INFO $45-$75; 631-207-1313, patchoguetheatre.org