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BWW Review: MANDY PATINKIN IN CONCERT: DIARIES at National Theatre

Mandy Patinkin at the National Theatre in DC

Mandy Patinkin gave a stunning concert performance this past Friday the 29th of November at the National Theatre as part of his 'Diaries' tour. The Tony and Emmy award winner has had a varied career of starring in films, television, recording in the studio, but he is at home on the stage. The songs he sings in this concert are selected from his 'diary' album series which are songs (mostly covers) which are mostly hidden gems from great songwriters. Patinkin does stripped down versions of these and released them on a collection of 3 separate albums.

During his show Patinkin performs songs from the great American songbook from artists such as Randy Newman, Harry Chapin, Stephen Sondheim, and Meredith Wilson. Patinkin actually performs two Randy Newman songs: Dayton Ohio 1903 and Wandering Boy. These are two songs that were released almost 45 years apart by the same artist. These are not only a testament to Newman's strength as a songwriter but show that Patinkin can choose the correct songs for the correct moments of his show. Patinkin has a setlist where each song seems to compliment the next. While most of the songs seemed as they belonged in the show his version of Laurie Anderson's 'From the Air' did not seem to fit with the rest of the show with piped in instrumentals that were distracting.

BWW Review: MANDY PATINKIN IN CONCERT: DIARIES at National Theatre

Patinkin closes the main act of his show with a heartfelt performance of 'Children and Art' and 'Sunday' the closing song of Sondheim's 1984 Pulitzer prize winning show 'Sunday in the Park with George' where Patinkin held the titular role. While Patinkin sings these songs as a nod to an earlier part of his career, he seems to care about them as much as he did 35 years ago. He treats these songs as his companions; they have been with him from the start of his career. Performed in the context of this concert series it as if he is embodying the role once again. It enhances his performance as it gives the main act of his concert a climactic finish of both emotional and musical appeal.

Patinkin completely uses the stage he is given. He sings some songs sitting on the edge of the stage, and some sitting in a chair. Patinkin gives the bulk of his performance standing by the piano and commanding the audience. He does this from the get go with his opening number of Meredith Wilson's 'Trouble'. In this number, Patinkin has the audience participate in the song. The lighting and production design by Nathan W. Scheuer help transport the show to different settings and places. The Encore performance featured different elements that separate it from the main act. This has projections done by Tom Kalin and piped in choruses for 'The Song of the Titanic' done by sound designer Daniel J. Gerhard.

Patinkin and his pianist, Adam Ben-David, have great onstage chemistry together. Ben-David worked well as the foundation of the show, guiding Patinkin through the concert. Ben-David's full-length rendition of Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' with Patinkin was especially excellent and an unexpected piece of the show.

With its 90 minute runtime, it makes for an enjoyable night at the theatre. Tickets for other lengths of the tour can be found at http://www.mandypatinkin.org/schedule.html


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From This Author Russell Smouse