‘I like knowing my mother is in peace,’ says Patti LuPone on 15-year collaboration with Sondheim

Playwright Stephen Sondheim’s latest musical Company opened at New York City’s Lincoln Center Tuesday night and during the first performance Patti LuPone was front and center, as the overly dramatic and self-important Elaine.

LuPone, in her Broadway debut in the 1970 production, also played Elaine in the revival, when the musical moved to Broadway in 1981 and was extended to have a two-week break after its initial three-week run.

She also had a lead role in Sondheim’s 1997 musical Sunday in the Park with George, which was the first Broadway show she played.

LuPone will be promoting Company, a confessional autobiographical tale, for opening night including interviews on PBS’s StoryCorps.

Related Image Expand / Contract (Ed Ricci / StoryCorps via YouTube)

Following the show’s successful run in 2014, LuPone told The Hollywood Reporter that her collaboration with Sondheim reminded her of her beloved mother, who passed away unexpectedly in 1996.

“My mom had been living with me in New York for a long time, and she said she was feeling very possessive and felt it was important for me to see that her flowers were in a vase of fake flowers. She said I needed to see my own flowers, which is incredibly sweet.

“So Stephen and I literally created an era in her funeral,” LuPone said. “Our mother had this agoraphobia, and she didn’t leave our apartment until I put her in the chair. I drove her to the hospital in the car, took her to her apartment, and kept her awake because it was a weekend, and I’m the only one who could go to my office and get my bed sheet.”

“I was like, ‘I will call Stephen if it gets too dark or lonely to go to my office,’ and he’d say, ‘Do what you have to do,’” she said. “He was like this artist’s mother.”

LuPone first worked with Sondheim while performing in the 1981 production of Company. Their most recent collaboration on Sunday in the Park with George was LuPone’s first major role as a solo performer.

Related Image Expand / Contract (Ed Ricci / StoryCorps via YouTube)

The performance marks the Broadway actress’ first starring role on Broadway in 35 years. She joins the Broadway cast of Company, which has an open cast of nine adults and nine children.

Before Company opened at Lincoln Center, LuPone tweeted “it’s gorgeous” at the work of Sondheim and his collaborator James Lapine. The score includes classics like “Ladies Who Lunch,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” “Move On,” “So Long, Marian Anderson,” “Good Night Irene,” “Somewhere” and the love song “Someone to Watch Over Me.”

LuPone is married to actor-writer LuPone Avdalian.

Leave a Comment