BWW Review: MANDY PATINKIN IN CONCERT: DIARIES at National Theatre
Tony and Emmy award winner Mandy Patinkin gave a stunning concert performance this past Friday the 29thof November at the National Theatre as part of his 'Diaries' tour. Patinkin has had a varied career of staring in films, television, in the recording studio, but his home is on the stage. The songs he sang in this concert were selected from his 'diary' album series which were songs (mostly covers) that were mostly hidden gems from great songwriters that he did stripped down versions of and released on a collection of 3 separate albums.
During his show Patinkin performed songs from the great American songbook from artists such as Randy Newman, Harry Chapin, Stephen Sondheim, and Meredith Wilson. Patinkin actually performed two Randy Newman songs: Dayton Ohio 1903 and Wandering Boy. These two songs that were released almost 45 years apart by the same artist are not only a testament to Newman's strength as a songwriter but also show that Patinkin is good at choosing the correct songs for the correct moments in his show. Patinkin chose a setlist where each song seemed to compliment the next. An exception to this rule was his version of Laurie Anderson's 'From the Air' which did not seem to fit with the rest of the show and had piped in instrumentals which ended up being more distracting than adding to the show.
Patinkin closed the main act of his show with a heartfelt performance of 'Children and Art' followed by 'Sunday' the closing song of Sondheim's 1984 Pulitzer prize winning show 'Sunday in the Park with George' that Patinkin held one of the starring roles in. While Patinkin is performing these songs as an homage to an earlier part of his career, he still seems to care about them as much as he did 35 years ago. It is as if these songs are his companions since they have been with him from the start of his career. They hold different meaning being performed in the context of this concert series as well since it as if he is embodying the role once again and there will always be a part of him that is in the role of George. It enhanced his performance as it gave the main act of his concert a climactic finish of both emotional and musical appeal.
Patinkin did a good job of using the space he was given. He sang some songs by sitting on the edger of the stage with his feet dangling off and he sang some sitting in a chair. Patinkin gave the bulk of his performance standing by the piano and commanding the stage and the audience especially in the opening number of Meredith Wilson's 'Trouble'. In this number Patinkin had the audience participate in the song. The lighting and production design by Nathan W. Scheuer also helped to take the show to different settings and places. The Encore performance featured different elements that separated it from the main act with projections done by Tom Kalin and piped in sound of choruses for 'The Song of the Titanic' done by sound designer Daniel J. Gerhard.
Patinkin and his pianist, Adam Ben-David, have great chemistry onstage together and 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 addition to the show.
While the 90 minute runtime of the show definitely seemed much longer than 90 minutes 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