(Just a little touch-a) star qualitee: A scientific analysis


Excuse me while I theatre-queen it out for a few moments.

People often think that “star quality” is intangible. Oh, no. I’m here to tell you, it’s a very real, observable thing. Take for example Patti LuPone’s legendary, Tony-winning performance in Evita. Specifically, her grab-em-by-the-balls rendition of of “Rainbow High”:

Now, let’s compare it to Valerie Perri’s performance. I have no clue who Valerie Perri is, but the important thing is that for this very scientific comparison, it is the same basic production under the same director with the same general blocking, costumes, lighting and choreography. After all, true scientific work requires controlled environments.

Take it away, Val:

Now, Ms. Perri is perfectly adequate, but doesn’t something seem to be missing? A certain… flair?

No, you’re not insane. Let’s break it down. (Warning — this requires you to do some toggling and skipping between the two clips above. But trust me, it’s vital and oh so very important):

Face front and belt your face off: Notice how LuPone constantly prowls the stage, yet manages to belt straight to the audience. And, to keep us off center, she throws in a spin at 00:57. Perri does exactly zero spins and keeps facing every other directions other than front. Yawn-bow high, anyone?

$ poses: Check out LuPone’s fierce pose at 1:18. Now look at Perri’s moment at 1:13. Just stick pom-poms in Perri’s hands, for pete’s sakes. She’s practically perky. Also, note what LuPone does at 1:33, and then what Perri does not do at that same moment at 1:26. Strong moves and random flourishes make a star.

“That’s all”: Note how LuPone dismisses the chorus at 1:59. She can barely look at them. They disgust her. After all, she’s too busy being fierce and belting out front. Perri wastes valuable diva time acknowledging the masses. Wrong and weak, Perfunctory Perri.

Applause: It all adds up to the hand claps. While LuPone gets cheers and ovations, Perri gets dead silence.

Need I convince you further?

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2 Comments

  1. The video of Valerie Perrie came from a dress rehearsal, which would explain the lack of applause. In the full video that clip came from, there is actually a part in which Hal Prince calls hold and yells at her for not wearing enough makeup. I believe that this rehearsal was done just for technical purposes because the show had been touring with that cast for a few months, so while I do agree that Patti LuPone is much better, I don’t really think it’s fair to compare a performance to a tech rehearsal.

  2. The video of Valerie Perrie came from a dress rehearsal, which would explain the lack of applause. In the full video that clip came from, there is actually a part in which Hal Prince calls hold and yells at her for not wearing enough makeup. I believe that this rehearsal was done just for technical purposes because the show had been touring with that cast for a few months, so while I do agree that Patti LuPone is much better, I don’t really think it\’s fair to compare a performance to a tech rehearsal.


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