Monday, July 9, 2007
There really aren't signs big enough or lights bright enough to trumpet the arrival of Patti Lupone's Mama Rose. She tears through the iconic role with a kind of focused ferocity that I've never seen anyone bring to this role before. Ably supported by a terrific onstage orchestra, the reigning Grande Dame of musical theatre landed one classic number after another--a subtle but forceful "Some People," a delightfully erotic "You'll Never Get Away From Me," opposite Boyd Gaines' winning Herbie--causing near pandemonium at City Center. In addition to Lupone and Gaines, a fine supporting cast has been assembled: Leigh Ann Larkin's June is well-sung, if a bit abrasive; Tony Yazbeck's Tulsa is adorable and expertly danced; the strippers--Alison Fraser, Nancy Opel and Marilyn Caskey--are the best I've ever seen. Laura Benanti defied the odds and turned in a surprisingly youthful and glowing Louise. The dark colors of her voice made her rendition of "Little Lamb" the most appropriately mournful I've ever heard. (Her reading of the song's final line, "I wonder how old I am," accentuated with a single tear, was flawless.) I could quibble about a few aspects of Arthur Laurents' new production, but I don't think that I will. The handful of flaws here aren't important. Patti Lupone's soon-to-be-legendary performance is. See it.