Patti LuPone Changes Her Tune on Twitter — for Now
The Broadway megastar finally tweets after literally swearing off the contentious social network.
"F*ck Twitter, as far as I'm concerned — and the people that run it," Patti LuPone once said in an interview with TM's David Gordon. That was in 2015, when she was starring in Shows for Days at Lincoln Center Theater and personally confiscating the smartphones of texting (or tweeting) audience members.
Her ire against the songbird-themed social network started before that, however: In 2011, an impersonator using the handle @LuPonePATTI began satirically tweeting as the two-time Tony winner — and it infuriated her. LuPone was so enraged that while she was in San Francisco promoting her memoir, she showed up at Twitter headquarters to complain…only to nearly have security escort her out. You can hear her tell the story here (this recording contains profanity):
It seemed like La LuPone would remain a Twitter refusenik forever — but on April 2, she unexpectedly changed her mind. As of this publication, she has posted three tweets from the blue-checked handle @PattiLuPone. Could Broadway's grandest dame become Twitter's newest star? We talk about it in this Story of the Week.
Who is Patti LuPone?
She's probably the most significant Broadway leading lady of our age — Merman-esque in her grandeur. Coming up through Juilliard and John Houseman's Acting Company, she received her first of seven Tony nominations in 1976 for The Robber Bridegroom and won her first Tony four years later for her iconic performance in Evita. Despite singing that vocally demanding role, for 27 Saturdays during the run she would depart the Broadway Theatre and head down to Les Mouches in Chelsea to perform her nightclub act, cementing her status as a superstar with a voice that won't quit.
While she's worked extensively in film and television (starring in all four seasons of ABC's Life Goes On), her realm has always been the theater, where she habitually surprises audiences with her daring performances, like when she played the tuba in John Doyle's revival of Sweeney Todd. Her legend is augmented by her unplanned performances, like this showstopping incident from the Broadway revival of Gypsy, which occurred several months after she took home her second Tony Award:
Why is Patti perfect for Twitter?
The above video answers that question. For better or worse, Twitter has become the primary theater of combat for opinionated Americans, and there are few more outspoken than Patti LuPone.
This has earned her a cult following (who can now literally follow her on Twitter). Broadway actor Robin De Jesús, who once starred in a solo show about her outsize influence on the gay male psyche called Patti Issues, recalled to me walking up and down Eighth Avenue reading her memoir when it dropped in 2010. Everyone wanted to know what she had to say, because Patti was calling people out before "call-out" culture was a thing.
Authoritative and confrontational, it's like she was made for Twitter. Naturally, her inaugural tweet begs to differ:
Contain me with only 280 characters? Fuck that.— Patti LuPone (@PattiLuPone) April 2, 2019
As of the publication of this article, LuPone has already garnered 39K followers, an organic rate of growth sure to make both "social media influencers" and 2020 presidential candidates green with envy.
Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is, of course, Broadway's Twitter mayor. He offered LuPone a welcome that was both hearty and gobsmacked:
Will we get to see her on Broadway soon (and will she be tweeting about it)?
I sure hope so. LuPone recently completed the run of the West End revival of Stephen Sondheim's Company. Directed by Marianne Elliott, it features a female protagonist named "Bobbie" (instead of the male "Bobby", as usually performed), and it has earned rave reviews from the London critics. So has LuPone, who played Joanne, the vodka-swilling smartass who sings "The Ladies Who Lunch." The song is closely associated with Elaine Stritch (who originated the role on Broadway), but by all accounts, LuPone has endowed her rendition with her own singular personality.
LuPone won a WhatsOnStage Award for her performance, and may just take home the Olivier Award when the winners are announced this Sunday, April 7. [UPDATED on April 7 at 3:50pm ET: She won!]
Rumors are swirling of a Broadway transfer, and they're unlikely to subside now that Company has won big at the Oliviers. We look forward to Patti's tweets from the after-party, which will serve as her unofficial going-away bash.
"We must do whatever we can as a theatre community to keep Patti LuPone in the UK," costar Jonathan Bailey said to WhatsOnStage.
"You can't have her, America," quickly added Rosalie Craig, who plays Bobbie. But Company played its last performance on March 30, and Patti LuPone is coming home. Hopefully, she'll bring Company.