I have seen Patti Lupone, like everybody else, on tv and in movies and broadcasts of performances she's been in, but I had never seen her perform live. I had really been wanting to see Gypsy, because I just can't imagine what other human on earth could do Mama Rose better than her, and she did win the Tony after all. My friend Eve happens to be a student, so she was able to get two student rush tickets for only 27 bucks per ticket, and they were in the FRONT ROW. In an opera, this would probably not be the best place to sit, but on broadway, where everything is incredibly amplified and the sound is the same no matter where you sit, I quite liked being right up close and being able to see the actors sweat and cry. I was also trying to see how the hell Patti Lupone can belt like that night after night, year after year, and can continue to have a voice. I still have no idea. And let me tell you, she does not phone one thing in, even though this was like the zillionth performance, and she already won her Tony, she was in it for every single moment, and when she opened up and wailed, it was like a lion roaring. And she even cried real tears in her final scene, which I cannot imagine how she can conjure up night after night, but she did, and I absolutely believed her. She really is a force of nature. The rest of the cast was also excellent, and god, what a great show Gypsy is. Here's a photo taken of the stage before the show started so you can see just how freaking close I was sitting.
I know the show because it was pretty much the first show I was ever in. When I was about 8 years old, my parents brought me to audition for the town's professional summer repertory theater company's production of Gypsy. The role of Baby June was very coveted by all the "stage babies" of our town, and I was not one of them. Baby June has to be able to tap dance, twirl the batons, do the splits and cartwheel, none of which I had any idea how to do. But because I could belt out a tune, the director decided to give me the part and they taught me how to do all the things I just mentioned (except cartwheel, which I was never able to master in my whole life). All the real life Mama Roses of the town were in a tizzy because I was not one of the "theater kids" and managed to land this plum role, but I had such a fantastic time doing that show, learning all that stuff, and wearing all those crazy wigs and costumes, that it was probably THE experience that got me hooked on wanting to be a performer. And the thing that is the most crazy is that even though I tend to have a terrible memory about events from my childhood, when the Baby June numbers started tonight, I remembered every word as if not a day had passed since I twirled my little eight-year-old batons off.