But by the time Paul Sorvino replaced him, in late October on the tour’s last stop — at the Kennedy Center in Washington, less than a month before the scheduled Broadway start — the actors were so “bloody and beaten” that they only wanted to be left alone by this new leading man who was trying to rally them, LuPone said.
For her, some of the erosion of morale involved “Meadowlark,” which tells the story of Geneviève’s decision to leave her husband. In LuPone’s recollection, it was consistently in the show until Merrick’s stunt in Boston, the tour’s penultimate stop. After that, “it was out, in, out, in, out, in, between Boston and Washington,” she said.
The last time it was pulled from the show, she remembers walking out of a company notes session and telling “the director du jour,” John Berry, that he could go straight to hell.
“I left and went into my dressing room, started crying, started smashing stuff,” she said. “And like a flock of sea gulls after the notes session, the company came in and put a Valium in my throat — and then left the room!”
LuPone laughed. At this distance, she cherishes her forged-in-fire “Baker’s Wife” anecdotes, and she is sure about the disheartening disappearance and reappearance of her big song — a number that, at her own concerts, fans demand to hear as much as they demand “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.”
But Billig, the conductor, said he didn’t remember the song being pulled more than once. Schwartz, whose daughter, Jessica, was born during the tour, was at home for much of its second half. Still, he said the song would not have been out of the show after his agent objected vociferously the first time.
One point of agreement about “The Baker’s Wife” back then is that it never did come into focus, no matter how relentlessly it was reworked. (To those who blame Stein’s book, Schwartz retorts loyally that “if we didn’t solve things, it’s because we didn’t solve them together.”)