Fred Kavli Theatre, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza
through Sunday March 25 only
(remaining shows: Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm and 8pm and Sunday at 2pm and 7pm)
Mandy Patinkin and Patti LuPone, legendary stage stars that they are, have more than a few tricks up their theatrical sleeves. However, the true grit of an artist shines through when he does not use any of them, but rather says the words, sings the songs and bares his soul.
Such can be said of both of these artists, who, in their simplistically staged concert now at the Fred Kavli Theatre in Thousand Oaks, do more with one song than most singers merely dream of. Backed by musical director Paul Ford at the piano and a bass player, she soars with "In Buddy's Eyes", he with "The God-Why-Don't-You-Love-Me Blues"; she with "I Want a Man", he with "April in Fairbanks"; she with "Getting Married Today", he with "Everybody Says Don't". The list goes on and on. Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sondheim, and Kander and Ebb have never sounded better, and the two singers are having a ball. A dance here, some choreography on chairs there, credited to Ann Reinking. A bare theatre stage, some lights, a few chairs as props, two musicians and two brilliant singing actors relating the ins and outs of love through the great Broadway music of yesteryear. It does take chemistry to make it all work, and these two have it in spades.
Of course, there's her signature "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina" - and his "Oh, What a Circus" from their first show together Evita in 1979 - and "Everything's Coming Up Roses" from her recent Tony-winning portrayal of Mama Rose in Gypsy thrown in for good measure. Lupone has never sounded or looked better; she simply grows finer with age. Patinkin's tenor voice may be a tad thinner than it used to be ... but, he infuses the work with everything he's got and a slew of imagination, and for that alone, I admire and respect him as a performer!
This is a great evening of theatre that all performers should see- and everyone else as well, for the pure entertainment and class of it. Musical theatre lives on only when greats like Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin continue to grace the stage with such passionate work. Bravo!