Mandy Patinkin comes with impressive credentials, from a Tony for his debut on Broadway in 'Evita' to a Pulitzer nomination for the title role in 'Sunday in the Park with George'.
And he comes with a fanbase – a clique, or even a claque, maybe – that loves him for those roles and which whoops and sighs through his first-night one-man show. Apart, that is, from the person snoring loudly. (This is no candidate for office fire warden: if they can sleep through Patinkin's penny-whistle top register, they'll never hear the smoke alarm.)
But anyone new to Patinkin would wonder exactly why he spends an admittedly impressive two solid hours revisiting old Sondheim numbers, his beloved Yiddish songs, and mangling normally indestructible standards such as "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", cut with chunks of 'The Tempest' and, oddly, the Gettysburg Address. On a bare stage, in a black T-shirt and slacks, he is saying, this is me, no razzmatazz. Well, I like a bit of razzmatazz, and gurning is no substitute.
Patinkin's outstanding pianist, Ben Toth stepping in at days' notice, was tested to the limit when one number appeared to collapse entirely. Substituting Sarah Palin for Evita in the inevitable "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" got a laugh: "She did NOTHING for years ...".
Patinkin closed with an appeal: "Please end the insanity in the Middle East." Given his undoubted musical reach, perhaps he might, another time, include something by Rim Banna, Reem Kelani, or Kamilya Jubran.
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