Patinkin is pure joy on the stage, and the feeling is catching.

By: Jan. 31, 2023
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If you have the opportunity to see the legendary Mandy Patinkin perform "Bohemian Rhapsody" in person, DO IT.

If you have the opportunity to dance the "Hokey Pokey" while Tony and Emmy Award winner Mandy Patinkin sings in Yiddish, DO IT.

Okay, it looks like a few of you still haven't bought your tickets for his tour, so I guess this review needs to be longer than "What the hell are you waiting for? Go see this concert immediately!"

Although, quite frankly, I'm happy to gush about this performance.

For those of you who have been living without joy since the early 1970s, Mandy Patinkin is an actor and singer with an impressive resume, including originating the roles of Che in Evita and George in Sundays in the Park with George on Broadway, portraying Dr. Jeffrey Geiger in Chicago Hope and Saul Berenson on Homeland, and playing the iconic Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride. He's recorded a range of albums, including everything from show tunes to classic standards to Yiddish covers to original music. He's also something of a social media celebrity these days, thanks to the charming videos his son, Gideon, started posting of Patinkin and his wife, Kathryn Grody, (and their dog) during the pandemic. All of which to say, Patinkin not only boasts an impressive resume and range of talent, but he's also one of those notable performers who has appeal across genres and generations.

Mandy Patinkin in Concert: Being Alive is his latest project, and the tour included a stop on January 28th at the Strathmore Music Center. Accompanied by pianist Adam Ben-David, Patinkin charms the audience with an assortment of songs, medleys, and monologues. Patinkin engages a few unconventional props to great effect - most notably an air horn for his rendition of Ella Fitzgerald's "A-Tisket-A-Tasket," and a handful of coins as both a story aid and percussion - and fills the stage with his presence as he leans into each aspect of his performance. Still, his water breaks and asides about the challenges of performing or conversations with his son about choosing pieces make the whole experience feel intimate and personal, despite being in a large concert hall. Even with the knowledge of a set list and Patinkin's skills, there's a sense that the audience is simply spending the evening with a friend and each number is more of a whim than a carefully selected and rehearsed piece.

And what a selection it is. Patinkin's classics are fun snapshot pieces that allow him to incorporate his performance skills beyond his wonderful voice, and his Yiddish covers were a fun way to feature an important part of his identity as well as encourage the audience to consider songs they're familiar with in a new light. A few popular pieces, such as the aforementioned "Bohemian Rhapsody" and Carousel's "Soliloquy" noticeably heightened the interest of the already-rapt audience, and there's something quite magical about feeling invested viewers drawn in even deeper. Patinkin is pure joy on the stage, and the feeling is catching. By the time he reaches "Being Alive," the mood in the concert hall is transcendent, with audience members grinning and humming along.

It helps that Patinkin's inconceivable (sorry, I had to put it somewhere) talent and joyfulness is supported by equal talent on and off the stage. Ben-David's piano skills are incomparable, but it's also his ability to play off of and keep up with Patinkin (most notably during an exchange from The Music Man) that make him a charismatic performer in his own right; while he keeps the attention on Patinkin, it's clear that Ben-David's skills are a solid complement to the leading man, and that he's having fun performing alongside him. Behind the scenes, in addition to Patinkin's son, there's a solid team supporting this tour, and their skill and love for the work clearly shows, most notably in Daniel J. Gerhard's wonderful sound design and Nathan Scheuer's fun lighting. Stage Manger Julia Jones and Production Supervisor Richard Hester run a tight production, even as it feels playful and relaxed, and the end result is a beautiful, jubilant evening.

The phrase "Mandy Patinkin in Concert" should always draw audiences, but this particular Being Alive tour is just a lovely and loving performance, and it's one well worth seeing. And be sure to dance when Patinkin tells you to - not just because he asks, but because this concert will make you delight in the chance to join in.

The Strathmore performance of Mandy Patinkin in Concert: Being Alive took place on Saturday, January 28th. While this is the only performance currently slated for the DC-Metro area, Patinkin is touring the East Coast of the United States through mid-February. Concert stops and ticket information can be found on Patinkin's website. Information about performances at Strathmore Music Center can be found on the main Strathmore website.


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