Over the last month or so, we had the pleasure of going to performances by Kristen Chenoweth and Patti LuPone. The first we saw at Constitution Hall, the latter at Strathmore, a facility near us in Montgomery County, MD.
We were on the side at Constitution Hall and in the second row of the Orchestra at Strathmore, so one difference between our appreciation of the two performances was that it was if Patti LuPone was practically in our living room. That is, if we had a sunken living room and could seat a few thousand people.
Both performers are wonderful singers. I was lucky enough to see Chenoweth in Wicked as the good witch Glinda in which she was hilarious and LuPone in Gypsy twice as well as Sweeney Todd where in addition to singing she played the tuba (and triangle).
In fact, if you go to YouTube you can see a performance of Candide in which both performed. If you just want an introduction to the performances you can see the Chenoweth performance of Glitter and Be Gay which starts with LuPone also in the scene, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVsLMxam21I.
If you have not heard Chenoweth before you will find that not only does she have a great pop voice but also a near-operatic capability.
And yet I would call the Chenoweth concert a great performance and the LuPone concert great entertainment.
Both performers have the ability to perform a great range of material and have great voices, though in terms of sheer power Chenoweth is remarkable.
However Patti Lupone both had a more thematic performance, all of the songs had something to do with love and thus she was able to weave a series of stories around the music, where Chenoweth performed a variety of songs but not well connected.
In addition while it is clear that Chenoweth is a fine actress in a set piece, LuPone dominates the stage whenever she is on it. Some people have a star quality that draws attention, not always caused by talent (though Patti LuPone is one of the great diva’s – said in the most positive sense – on the stage today) and others do not. LuPone does, Chenoweth might someday but not yet.
Regardless both performers are well worth seeing, we enjoyed them both a great deal. But if you have never heard Patti LuPone live either by herself or in a show, please do so; it is an experience not to be missed.