Far Away Places: Live at 54 BELOW

by Steven Bergman

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday January 17, 2013

Far Away Places: Live at 54 BELOW

"Live at 54 BELOW" is a new series of recordings from the new Manhattan cabaret venue located under the former home of the (in)famous Studio 54. Owners Tom Viertel, Marc Routh, Richard Frankel, and Steven Baruch are similarly well-known Broadway producers, so their ability to bring in top-notch talent for their new venture won't be a challenge. A case in point was their bringing in Patti LuPone as the premiere artist for their venue. "Far Away Places" is the title of LuPone's evening that has been thankfully preserved digitally for us to enjoy for years to come.

A veteran of the stage (as well as the screens, both small and large), LuPone, along with longtime collaborator Scott Wittman, have compiled a wonderfully entertaining set of songs about travel and wanderlust, and the Sicilian New Yorker takes us around the world with her renditions of these stories, mixed in with patter both informative and self-mocking (she is even able to throw in a reference to her noted occurrence when she stopped her performance in "Gypsy" to ridicule the cell-phone ringing of a patron).

Comfortably supported by music director Joseph Thalken and a five-piece band, LuPone takes us to visit Kurt Weill ("Bilbao Song," "Ah, the Sea Is Blue," "Pirate Jenny," and "September Song"), Edith Piaf ("Hymn to Love"), Stephen Sondheim ("By The Sea"), and Cole Porter ("Come To The Supermarket in Old Peking," from his obscure "Aladdin" record), mixed with lesser known songs from Johnny Mercer and Willie Nelson. The recording quality is good, and LuPone never holds back, vividly portraying the sass and spunk that has earned her legions of fans throughout her forty year career, highlighted by her Tony Awards for both "Evita" and the aforementioned, "Gypsy."

Broadway Records and 54 BELOW have slated releases of many more artists' performances from the new venue, but they have set a very high bar with their initial offering.

"Patti LuPone: Far Away Places"

Live From 54 BELOW

CD and digital formats

Broadway Records / 54 BELOW

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.