By Collin Kelley

Patti LuPone was the original Evita on Broadway, originated the role of Fantine in Les Misérables and redefined the iconic stage mother, Rose, in Gypsy. In other words, she’s musical theatre royalty.

LuPone will sign her eponymous memoir tomorrow (Sept. 13) at 1 p.m. at Agnes Scott College’s Presser Hall in a program presented by Georgia Center for the Book. She’s only making four appearances to promote the book and Atlanta snagged the only one where she’ll actually be speaking.

LuPone has a reputation for being opinionated, mercurial and difficult and she’s not afraid to admit it in her memoir. She’s had a run-in with nearly every actor, director and producer in the world, and yet they still want to work with LuPone. Even after Andrew Lloyd Webber fired her from Sunset Boulevard, he toyed with the idea of asking her to appear in another show.

In two long chapters, LuPone goes deep into the debacle of Sunset Boulevard, how Webber undermined the show by allowing Barbra Streisand to record the show’s big songs before the musical even opened; casting Glenn Close in a competing version in Los Angeles; inviting New York critics to the London previews before the show was ready; and then firing LuPone before the show transferred to Broadway after the US critics drubbed the London show.

The backstage dish makes up the bulk of the memoir, but LuPone is also a fierce advocate for actors, especially when it comes to working conditions and salary. Although she’s won two Tony Awards, an Olivier Award and nominated for a raft of others, she refreshingly pissed off when she loses (especially for her role in the revival of Anything Goes on Broadway).

LuPone has an Atlanta connection, too. She played Florine Worthen, Boolie’s clotheshorse wife, in the film version of Driving Miss Daisy, written by Atlanta native Alfred Uhry. It was Uhry who gave LuPone one of her first big breaks, when she was cast in his musical, The Robber Bridegroom.

For more information, visit www.georgiacenterforthebook.org.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.