Broadway Review: ‘‘An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy P

Posted: November 21, 2011

If two of Broadway's enduring stars were looking to create an intimate concert in a large Broadway house, that's just what they've done in An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin, which opened a limited run at the Barrymore on Monday night.

The show is the direct opposite of glitz and glamour - so down to earth, with the sole backup from pianist Paul Ford and bassist John Beal, it's hard to believe we're on Broadway.

We are, though, and back to a time when what we got, pure and simple, was pure and simple. There's barely a costume change, or a word of small talk, on a set filled with bare lights of different colors, on single poles of varying heights.

They could be singing in your parlor. Patinkin could be sitting at the dining room table when he tells how he became friends with LuPone in a relationship that's lasted decades. The performers met in the original 1979 cast of Evita, for which they both won Tony Awards - she in the title role, he as Che Guevara.

It's the only break for patter in a concert that employs tweaked original scripts from Broadway musicals as the grout for medleys.

The show was first developed in a short run in Philadelphia at the Prince Music Theater four years ago, a project on their minds five years before that. It toured several cities from time to time, when the two had no other commitments in the way, including Wilmington's DuPont Theatre - old-fashioned out-of-town tryouts, with an eye toward polishing ad rewriting.

Dressed simply in concert black - or is that just New York black? - LuPone and Patinkin move smoothly through songs from shows including Company, Anyone Can Whistle, Follies and Into the Woods, and cleverly arranged medleys from South Pacific, Merrily We Roll Along and Carousel; the show is heavy with Sondheim, a natural choice for two solid Sondheim interpreters.

LuPone and Patinkin perform solos from Evita, each a show-stopper. But An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin is not the sort of concert that pleads for continuous standing ovations - one of the aspects that make it appealing. It's two celebrated performers living up to their mettle - and making it appear effortless.


Contact staff writer Howard Shapiro at 215-854-5727, hshapiro@phillynews.com, or #philastage on Twitter. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/howardshapiro. Hear his reviews at the Classical Network, www.wwfm.org.

An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin is at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 243 W. 47th St., New York.

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