Saturday, May 09, 2009

An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin


‘AN EVENING WITH PATTI LUPONE AND MANDY PATINKIN,’ is a dream concert for those in the “theatre”-know. It is a match up of two of Broadway’s superstars. Put the dynamic duo on the stage with a piano and a bass, add some ghost lights, allow them to probe the Broadway song book, and the result is a wonderful evening of entertainment.

Mandy Patinkin is an American actor of stage and screen and a tenor vocalist. He is noted for his ability to stylize songs by reverting to falsetto and rephrasing the original scoring of a song. Though well known for his roles in television’s ‘CHICAGO HOPE’ and ‘CRIMINAL MINDS,’ and the films ‘YENTEL’ and ‘RAGTIME,’ he is renowned for his musical stage performances. His initial success came when he played Che in ‘EVITA’ in 1979. It was here that he and LuPone, who played the title role, made professional contact. Patinkin went on to win that year's Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. He returned to Broadway in 1984 to star in ‘SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE,’ which saw him earn another Tony Award nomination. He also appeared in ‘THE SECRET GARDEN,‘ ‘FALSETTOS,’ ’THE WILD PARTY,’ and ‘SAVAGES.’ He sings in Yiddish, often in concert, and on his album, ‘MAMALOSHEN.’

Patti LuPone swept the 2008 theatre awards winning the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Actress for her performance as Mama Rose in ‘GYPSY.’ Other smash appearances include ‘ SWEENEY TODD,’ ‘CAN-CAN,’’ ‘CANDIDE,’ ‘NOISES OFF,’ ‘PAL JOEY,’ ‘ANYTHING GOES,’ ‘OLIVER!,’ ‘THE ROBBER BRIDEGROOM,’ and ‘LES MISÉRABLES.’ In 1995, she appeared on the Great White Way in a one-woman show, ‘PATTI LUPONE ON BROADWAY.’

With that history, the major problem in putting together their evening, was the selection of songs. Though the program was varied, many of the songs were not from the shows in which they appeared. These included segments from ‘SOUTH PACIFIC,’ ‘MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG, and ‘CAROUSEL.’ Though entertaining, the program wasn’t what many of those who came to see and hear the duo yearned for. The response to LaPone’s “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” (‘EVITA’) and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” (‘GYPSY’), in which the audience erupted in applause during the first several notes of each, illustrated the desire. Unfortunately, Patinkin didn’t feature any of the songs from his major shows.

This is not to say the evening was disappointing, it wasn’t. However, I left a little empty for not hearing more of the musical theatre history of the duo.

Highlights included “Another Hundred People” (‘COMPANY’), “Everybody Says Don’t” (‘ANYONE CAN WHISTLE’), “April in Fairbanks” (‘NEW FACES OF 1956’), “The God-Why-Don’t You-Love-Me Blues” (‘FOLLIES’), and “You’re Just in Love” (‘CALL ME MADAM’).

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: ‘AN EVENING WITH PATTI LUPONE AND MANDY PATINKIN’ will be of great joy to anyone who loves musical theatre. That’s not to say others will not like the offerings, but there is a special place in the hearts and minds of “theatre-people” for this near queen and king of musicals.