BWW Reviews: AN EVENING WITH PATTI LUPONE AND MANDY PATINKIN at the Kennedy Center - Just Plain Spectacular
Where do I begin to describe the amazing performances last night of two of the great performers to ever grace a stage. My relationship with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin began in 1980 when they took the theatrical world by storm with their performances in EVITA. It was just the beginning. They both have now massive biographies which I will not even begin to summarize.
Let me get to the point. Seeing these two together with the great Paul Ford on the piano and Dan Hall on bass is just plain breathtaking. The song list thankfully names the songs, the composers, and the shows the songs came from...a brilliant idea. I counted 11 by Stephen Sondheim and 13 by Oscar Hammerstein. There were a couple by Jerome Kern, Kander and Ebb, Frank Loesser, Murray Grand, and of course, Andrew Lloyd Webber.
The first half flew by in only 40 minutes. The stage was littered with about 27 light stands and two chairs. Mandy was in his customary all black silk shirt and slacks and Patty went from a black blouse and black goucho pants to a crimson outfit in act two which lasted about an hour. This was not just two performers singing hit songs. There was actual work taken from the musicals to explain the numbers.
The evening began with Sondheim's epic "Another Hundred People" and then morphed songs from SOUTH PACIFIC and back to COMPANY and the hilarious "Getting Married Today. Patinkin milked the gorgeous "Loving You" from PASSION. Sondheim's "It Takes Two" from INTO THE WOODS was wonderful. Act I ended with the hilarious trio of "I Won't Dance", "I Want a Man", and "April in Fairbanks" by Murray Grand.
Act II began with LuPone and Patinkin as an elderly couple with a shawl over their legs singing "Old Folks" by Kander and Ebb. I was so pleased LuPone included "Everything's Coming Up Roses" from GYPSY.
I remember her vividly stopping the show cold on Broadway with this number. Patinkin donned an old hat and hilariously did "The God-Why-Don't-You-Love-Me Blues" from FOLLIES. They re-enacted a graduation scene from high school before doing "The Hills of Tomorrow", "Merrily We Roll Along", "Old Friends", and "Like It Was" all from MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG. The concert ended with a lovely homage to CAROUSEL.
But...there is little doubt the highlight came when Patinkin reminisced about EVITA. It was April 1978, and he got his first ever phone call in a restaurant telling him he got the part. He recalled he asked, "Who got the female lead?" He replied simply, "OK". They head to LA for previews. "We were young and scared shitless".
One night he visited LuPone's dressing room and he found her crying. He held her tightly and told her he'd always be there for her. Patinkin then brought the house down with "Oh What a Circus". It was just like 1980. The audience went nuts. Some stood. Then LuPone, with no orchestrations, just a piano and bass, did "Don't Cry for Me Argentina". Again the Kennedy Center exploded with applause. Yes, there were even tears in my eyes. It was magical.
The show runs to February 23, 2014. If you can't make it, head to Newark, NJ where they will give a one night performance on March 1. It is a night to remember. For tickets, call 212-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.