Aubrey Plaza Channels Her Inner Frank Rossitano By Bunking With Patti LuPone

'30 Rock' meets 'Parks and Recreation' meets John Patrick Shanley
Aubrey Plaza Channels Her Inner Frank Rossitano By Bunking With Patti LuPone

In New York even Tony Award-winners and TV superstars need roommates.

Parks and Recreation star Aubrey Plaza is gearing up for her theater debut in an off-Broadway production of John Patrick Shanley’s Danny and the Deep Blue Sea. The gritty one-act tells the story of a pair of society’s rejects connecting, sparring and embracing each other in a bar in the Bronx, with Plaza playing the part of the boozing, abused single mother Roberta – fittingly the middle-name of Plaza’s most famous character, April Ludgate.

In preparation for her first non-comedic onstage performance, Plaza has been living with one of the best stage actors alive, her Agatha: Darkhold Diaries co-star Patti LuPone, known to Broadway fanatics as one of the finest mezzo-sopranos in the history of musicals. To sitcom fans who only know New York through shows like 30 Rock or Seinfeld, LuPone might be familiar for playing the overbearing Italian mother with whom the licentious, novelty hat-loving “TGS” writer Frank Rossitano still lives. God knows what horrors April uncovered when she moved into Frank’s room – I pray she didn’t try the sun tea.

“She’s trying to whip me into shape,” Plaza said of her new roommate, mentor and mother figure in a recent interview with Vulture. Plaza reported that LuPone has been doing her laundry, making her soup, and nursing her through throat troubles the way only those with the most accomplished of pipes can manage. 

When Plaza went down with a bad case of strep throat shortly before the start of rehearsals, LuPone taught her surrogate daughter about the doctor in the footlights. “I was like, ‘Why is this happening?’" Plaza recalled, "Patti went, ‘It’s happening because you have to toughen up.’”

During her brief but powerhouse performance on 30 Rock, LuPone understood the importance of laying down the law in her house – she successfully dissuaded Jack Donaghy from pushing her son to pursue a legal career. She tried (unsuccessfully) to keep her son away from Susan Sarandon after she got out of jail for molesting him. Now, she's bracing her sullen surrogate daughter for her off-Broadway debut with the same Italian toughness of that frozen ox she made for Liz.

Hopefully, next week, we'll hear about how Jack McBrayer has been bunking with Amy Poehler to prepare for Equus.

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