Broadway and West End star Patti LuPone has criticised untrained Hollywood stars who attempt to tread the boards, as well as the American enthusiasm for “cheap” standing ovations.
The Olivier, Grammy and Tony Award winner, who will return to London for a revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical Company, delivered some scathing opinions on the state of modern theatre at the launch of the new production, in which she will star opposite Rosalie Craig and Mel Giedroyc.
The American star said: “I don’t necessarily need to see film actors on stage, because they can’t.
“Not in my country they can’t. Can I just say, Uma Thurman in The Parisian Woman, anybody see it? Holy shit! I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
“I’m not sure there is a stigma any more (about film actors doing theatre), perhaps there should be.”
She later added: “I have to qualify that – there are a lot of film actors that have made their career in film that come to the stage and are brilliant.
“One of the examples of that is Lobby Hero right now on Broadway with Chris Evans and Michael Cera, and there is a British girl in there, Bel Powley, she’s fantastic, they are all incredible.
Happy Opening to #LobbyHero! Stay tuned for a special sneak peek of the orange carpet on Snapchat tonight! Follow us @ NYC2ST #2STonBroadway #OrangeIsTheNewBway pic.twitter.com/MNqLFYc9zS— Second Stage Theater (@2STNYC) March 26, 2018
“Chris Evans has never been on Broadway before, he’s making his Broadway debut. The stage presence, the command, the diction was incredible, but then there are people for some reason who feel they need to come to the stage and I don’t know why, because they don’t have the theatrical ability.”
She continued: “It’s hard work, so I want you to understand that I have nothing against Uma Thurman, but you want those people to come to the stage for the right reason and that is to honour the stage, honour the theatre and not be in for themselves, and I’m not saying that Uma was.”
Speaking about casting a Hollywood star who might not be equipped for the part, she added: “You also lower the standard, and that seems to be happening in the world with everything.
“We are not answering to our nobler instincts, and so I don’t want to be compromised that way. I don’t want it in my life, in my entertainment, I want to be elevated.”
LuPone also criticised the regularity of standing ovations, especially in her native US, and said she stays seated in protest.
She said: “Ovations are cheap in America; it’s almost as if they stand because they have spent so much money.
“It’s almost as if ‘I’ve spent this money, I’m forced in my head to think it’s good and I’m going to stand to cement it, because I’ve spent that much money’.”
She added that she had stayed seated after watching the Olivier-winning play The Ferryman the previous night, even though she thought it was “fantastic”.
She said: “I don’t stand. In protest, I stay seated. I am in protest of standing ovations, I stay seated and I’m just making my point. It’s too cheap to stand now.”
However, she added: “I stood for Hamilton, I flew out of my seat for Hamilton.”
Company, directed by Marianne Elliott, will run at the Gielgud Theatre from September 26 to December 22 2018.