(Stephen Holden’s article appeared in The New York Times, 11/5; via Pam Green.)

To watch Patti LuPone sing “Surabaya Johnny,” the great Brecht-Weill song from the musical “Happy End,” is to watch a performer dive into the muck of one of the most desperate musical harangues by an abused woman ever written. Because an attitude of defiance seems encoded in Ms. LuPone’s DNA, the character’s confession of erotic enslavement to a contemptuous stud is all the more disturbing.

You can easily imagine Ms. LuPone slapping a boyfriend around. But until you’ve heard her version of the song, it’s hard to envision the reverse. As I watched Ms. LuPone, with fiery eyes and an Elvis Presley sneer spit out the song on Tuesday evening at 54 Below, she suggested a hard-shell dominatrix who had met her match.


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