Monday, November 28, 2011


Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin are legends in the eyes of Broadway.  Both have found some success on tv and in movies, with Patinkin winning an Emmy for his work on the tv show Chicago Hope, but it is Broadway where the two are most at home.   While both have performed in numerous plays it is their musical roles that have brought them the most acclaim, with both of them winning Tony Awards very early in their careers for their work in the Original Broadway cast of Evita.  However, it is their attention to detail that they learned from all of the dramatic parts they played that is the key element to their show An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin that is having a limited run through January 13th on Broadway.

This is actually a concert that the two of them have been performing for the past several years.   We saw the show about two years ago when it played NJPAC in Newark and I have to say that I enjoyed seeing the show a second time much more than I did the first time.  And the reason I did is because I knew what I would be seeing, or should I say what I wouldn't be seeing.  You see, Patti and Mandy have both done many concert tours over the past 15 or so years and the two of them are huge proponents of talking to the audience during their shows, offering comments about their lives as well as personal stories about their careers.  They are both very funny too which adds to the enjoyment.  Their concerts have always been the perfect balance of their hits songs, new material plus personal stories.  So, considering that this show is called "An Evening With Patti and Mandy," for anyone who has ever seen them in concert before you would think that you're in for a double header of what the two of them have usually done in the past.  Well, if you thought that, you'd be very wrong. 

Mandy Patinkin and Patti LuPone
When we saw the show in Newark there wasn't a single time that either Mandy or Patti spoke to the audience, which made the whole evening somewhat of a huge letdown after the many enjoyable times we've spent at their concerts before.  But seeing the show a second time, and in the much more intimate Barrymore theatre, was an amazing experience.  There is also now one very personal moment when Mandy speaks to the audience in the second act that makes the evening much more intimate and touching.

Covering over thirty songs in the two hour evening, the show was conceived by Patinkin and pianist Paul Ford as a theatrical event, not a concert.   Representing various stages in a relationship between two people, the choice of music covers some of the best theatre songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sondheim and a few others as well. 

Major portions of each of the two acts are set aside for songs and dramatic scenes from South Pacific in act one and Carousel in the second act.  These mini-musicals are perfect vehicles to show the dramatic capabilities of both Patinkin and LuPone.  And after seeing the show a second time it is now very clear how the two of them must have been completely drawn to the ability to demonstrate what they are capable of, especially as to how they would have played the parts in these two classic, dramatic musicals.  

The evening has some very funny moments as well including LuPone doing a very good version of "Getting Married Today" from Sondheim's Company and Patinkin playing all three parts in "Buddy's Blues" from Follies.   That Sondheim show also provides LuPone with a chance to show what she could have done as "Sally" in that show as her "In Buddy's Eyes" is a simply touching and beautiful moment.  There is also a nice group of songs from Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along in the second act.

LuPone also gets to reprise her Tony winning role as "Rose" in Gypsy with "Everything's Coming Up Roses" and the second act does give both Mandy and Patti a chance to sing their main solo songs from Evita.  I have to say that both of them sound almost exactly the same today as they do on the cast recording that was made over 30 years ago.

I personally think that if they had came up with a name for the show instead of the very lame "An Evening with..." it would prepare theatre goers for what they are about to experience.  I have to imagine many others were expecting another "concert" from these two legendary performers with the name of the show as it is.   But no matter what they call it, this is simply an evening with two theatre legends not to be missed.

Highly recommended

Official Show Site

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