Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin bring show to Kauffman Center; their longtime friendship began during the trials of ‘Evita’

The Kansas City Star

Patti LuPone thinks back to the early days of her friendship with Mandy Patinkin and describes it this way: “Mandy became my rock.”

It was the late 1970s, and they had been cast in “Evita,” a new musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice on the life of Eva Peron, the first lady of Argentina who became a sort of secular saint to her followers.

Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin (Brigitte Lacombe)

LuPone had the title role and Patinkin played Che, the show’s Greek chorus and narrator. And they were working with legendary director Hal Prince.

Both actors would win Tony Awards for their performances, but according to LuPone, getting there wasn’t easy.

“It was an incredibly difficult experience for me vocally on that show,” LuPone said. “I wasn’t prepared for a lot of the stuff that occurred on that show. I wasn’t trained for it. I wasn’t warned.

“And Mandy was my rock. Mandy saved me. He really did. I can’t say that strongly enough. He saved me emotionally, spiritually. Every time he was onstage I could relax. It was an incredibly difficult role and experience for me.”

LuPone said her vocal parts were pitched very high, which was a challenge. But there was also a media frenzy surrounding the show.

“We had never been in a play or a musical with that much hype,” she said with a laugh. “It was negotiating the waters of publicity and things that people said. It was hard. I don’t know what else to say. It was brutal.

“You know, there was a lot of controversy surrounding it. It was the Andrew Lloyd Webber publicity machine. It tends to be about not putting on a play but something else entirely. And it was scary stuff, especially since we were young and inexperienced.”  Read more at

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