Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Celebrating Patti LuPone


Broadway legend Patti LuPone, coming to Live at the Rrazz. Photo: Ethan Hill
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Tony-winning Broadway legend Patti LuPone will sing her heart out at Live at the Rrazz from March 19-24. The Evita superstar will pay tribute to another theatrical legend, the great songwriter Kurt Weill, among others. A mere two days after LuPone's show closes, UC Berkeley will host Patti Issues, in which Patti's biggest fan, actor Ben Rimalower, pays homage to the effect his idol has had on his life.

LuPone counts herself among Rimalower's fans. The two now enjoy a friendship and a working relationship. In separate telephone interviews with the B.A.R., they expressed disappointment that they'd be missing each other's Bay Area shows.

Patti Issues performer Ben Rimalower.
Photo: Christian Coulson

Rimalower shared tales of the dysfunctional childhood that planted the seeds for his life as an actor and his love for LuPone. "I needed to escape from toxic situations at home," he said. He describes LuPone's "balls-to-the-walls fierceness" as being empowering to him during his youth. He shared a dual father/son coming out story. "There was a lot of drama around my dad's coming out. We don't speak now. My dad is very damaged."

In Patti Issues, Rimalower explores the tumultuous relationship between his father and him, and how his personal struggles intersect with his deep love for and working relationship with LuPone. The show garnered quite a following in New York. Its fan base includes Alan Cummings, Justin Vivian Bond, and LuPone herself.

"Patti's wonderful!" said Rimalower. "She's such a terrific supporter of this show. She really talks me and this show up."

When we spoke to LuPone the following day, she confirmed her admiration for Rimalower. She also expressed her love for San Francisco.

"I can't wait," she said. "I love the city. It's a pity that it's been so long since I've been there. I've never been to Japantown!"

She's aware of her strong following among gay men. "I don't know why that is," she said. "You'll have to ask them that! I think they like good, strong performances. I appreciate all my audiences!"

LuPone's Rrazz show, Faraway Places, is inspired by her latest CD. In addition to Kurt Weill, she'll perform songs by Sondheim, Cole Porter, Willie Nelson, Edith Piaf, and even the Bee Gees. When asked what else audiences might expect, LuPone's advice was to come to the Rrazz and find out.

"These shows I do are a journey," she said. "I like to take the audience by surprise."


Patti LuPone: Faraway Places, March 19-24, Live at the Rrazz, 1000 Van Ness Ave. Tickets: (800) 380-3095, (415) 394-1189, or Ben Rimalower in Patti Issues, Choral Rehearsal Hall, BareStage at UC Berkeley, March 26, 8 p.m.; and The Marsh, 1062 Valencia St., March 27, 7:30 p.m. Tickets:


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