54 BELOW, located in the shadow of the legendary Studio 54, is lovingly referred to as Broadway's Living Room. Patti LuPone, one of modern Broadway's biggest stars opened the venue with her cabaret performances of Far Away Places, conceived and directed by Scott Wittman, on June 1 and 2, 2012.
LuPone is no stranger to performing cabarets. While starring in EVITA on Broadway in 1980, she also performed cabarets at the intimate and long-gone Les Mouches in Chelsea. Fans and A-list celebrities packed the house for her entire 27-week run there. Audiences still clamor to see LuPone on any stage, but her diehard LuPonistas and LuPonites will tell you that you can't beat seeing her in the cabaret setting.
On each track of the album, LuPone astonishes with her incredibly clean, superbly supported, and fantastically lush voice. Across the 20 tracks, she takes audiences on a journey through her impeccable range and sweet softer styling. The spoken tracks are great too, as she draws the audience in and even mocks herself, shouting, "Turn the phone off. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?" in reference to when she stopped her second to last performance in GYPSY during "Rose's Turn" because a patron was filming her.
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The tracks on the album cover a wide 100 years of musi with tracks written by artists ranging from Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht to Willie Nelson. She also sings from the songbooks of Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, and Edith Piaf.
Standout tracks include the feisty "Gypsy in my Soul," where LuPone showcases her star quality with a jazzy timbre and incredible belt. Her softly crooned "Far Away Places" is simply lovely. LuPone vibrantly sparkles with energy on the quirky and comedic "Come to the Supermarket in Old Peking." Her cabaret rendition of "By the Sea" from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is invigorating as she finds a way to breathe new and intriguing life into the standard tune. She is full of pizzazz and character in both the funny "I Regret Everything" and pulsating disco era hit "Nights on Broadway."
The Far Away Places concerts took audiences by storm, and this recording clearly illustrates why. Luckily for LuPone fanatics, she will be debuting a fully orchestrated version of the show on June 1, 2013 with The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra at The New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. Command performances will occur on June 2 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick and November 7 at Carnegie Hall in New York City. LuPone's legendary performances of Far Away Places were recorded live at 54 BELOW. The audio was mixed and edited by Robert Sher and Adam Long and mastered by Brad Sarno at Blue Jade Mastering. The recording can be purchased from iTunes and Amazon.