Reviewed by Joe Regan Jr.
December 12, 2012
Patti Issues is an extraordinary autobiographical play by Ben Rimalower directed by Aaron Mark that began performances last month at the Duplex. On December 12, in the midst of the Christmas parties and competing musical events, Rimalower had a sold out house! Rimalower, a bespectacled 36 year old Harry Potter type, began his life long obsession as a child with Patti LuPone when he was exposed to the Original Broadway Album of Evita. Parallel with this theme of his youth, Rimalower relates his splintered relationship with his birth father who was gay. Rimalower was openly gay in San Francisco and Berkeley but was so Patti obsessed he flunked out. Through a family connection, Rimalower introduced himself to Lonny Price, who directed Patti LuPone in the Encores Pal Joey. He re-contacted Price when he returned to New York and he got a job as Assistant Director on the NY Philharmonic production of Sweeney Todd with LuPone. She became his great friend, choosing him to come to her apartment to run over her lines with her. He told her about his enormous connection of her memorabilia and she ultimately chose him to create a video tape promotion reel to show TV network people. She wanted him to feature the video of her Les Mouches cabaret act she did during the original run of Evita. She agreed to let him re-create the act with Leslie Kritzer and the act is a big success at Joe’s Pub. When a recording contract is offered, LuPone suddenly withdraws her permission. However, she allows him to co-produce an album of the tracks from her original show. All of these stories are told with great animation and great mimic skills. His father re-appears suddenly at a performance of Gypsy, sitting directly behind him. Every word that Patti says and sings resonates as it never had before.
This review doesn’t cover all the incidents and narratives in Rimalower’s show or it would spoil it for you. Just make a reservation to see it! One of the Year’s Best!
Patti Issues has been extended at the Duplex every Friday and Saturday through December 30th and then will be repeated every Thursday in January and February. Reservations pattiissues.brownpapertickets.com