Leslie Kritzer Is Patti LuPone at Les Mouches

Joe's Pub; Fri 8, Sat 9, Jan 3, Jan 6

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Photograph: Stacey Grabowski

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Leslie Kritzer doesn’t just shine in her talk-of-the-town new show—she explodes like a supernova. Of course, the star power she displays is not entirely her own: Kritzer is channeling a supersized performance by Patti LuPone, whose status as our era’s top musical-theater diva is cemented by this irreverent homage. Every Saturday for 30 weeks in 1980, while starring in the original Broadway cast of Evita, LuPone performed a midnight show at the Chelsea gay disco Les Mouches; with help from LuPone’s original musical director and pianist, David Lewis (who repeats those duties at Joe’s Pub, leading a five-piece band), Kritzer re-creates this legendary nightclub act with a riveting mix of worship, parody and sheer nerve.

LuPone’s persona is elemental—earthy humor, fiery emotion and watery sentiment joined to the hurricane wind of her vocals—but since she tended to camp herself up to begin with, the humor in Kritzer’s show comes easily. Outfitted in a hilariously garish white tuxedo, the young singer has fun slurring unintelligibly through her opening number, “I’m a Latin from Manhattan.” (Following LuPone, she replaces the final comic cry of “Velveeta!” with the arguably even cheesier “Evita!”) But her breathtaking renditions of such LuPone standards as “Meadowlark,” “Rainbow High” and “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” go well beyond kitsch. Ultimately, it is Kritzer’s prodigious range and stamina, not just LuPone’s, that drive her audience wild. This is no mere star reproduction, but a star-making performance all its own. — Adam Feldman

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