It was nice to see the Obamas welcoming Broadway performers into the White House last week, something that used to happen more often than it has in recent years. But while watching, I couldn’t help but be reminded of some electrifying performances from years past. There was something in the pacing that was just a smidgen off, with some hairy notes and some languid interpretations of the more ebullient numbers (particularly the Hairspray finale), as though the whole affair were under rehearsed (save for the ravishing Audra McDonald who was practically perfect in every way).
This performance is one that kept popping back into my mind throughout the hour and a half I was glued to the White House live stream. Here’s Patti LuPone, accompanied by the US Marine Corps band belting out “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” from Anything Goes for then Vice President George H. W. and Barbara Bush in 1988. (Say what you will about them politically, they are ardent musical theatre fans and supporters). And suffice it to say, Ms. LuPone completely nails it.