We gave it an A-
With a combined 74 years of Broadway experience and more than a dozen main-stem musicals under their belts, Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin could probably put together a bang-up concert built entirely on their greatest hits (Evita, Oliver!, Anything Goes, Gypsy, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park With George, The Secret Garden, Falsettos, The Wild Party…). But the stars — who shared the stage in 1979’s Evita (for which they both won Tony Awards) — have something much more special in store in An Evening With Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin, their intimate two-person show that’s finally landed on Broadway (through Jan. 13) after nearly a decade of touring the country.
The greatest of the greatest hits are here: Patinkin’s fierce ”Oh What a Circus” (which reminds us what Ricky Martin’s up against in this spring’s Evita revival); LuPone’s ”Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” (powerhouse vocals notwithstanding, she gets a standing ovation simply by slowly raising her arms in the now-famous Evita-on-the-balcony pose); Patinkin’s vaudevillian triumph from the 1985 Follies concert, ”The God-Why-Don’t-You-Love-Me Blues”; LuPone’s spine-tingling ”Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from Gypsy (for which LuPone won her second Tony).
But more moving are their non-signature songs — medleys from South Pacific, Carousel, and Merrily We Roll Along (”Old Friends” sung by old friends!). Sure, LuPone is a little, ahem, mature for Carousel‘s coquettish Julie Jordan. But apologies to Barbara Cook, Bernadette Peters, and Shirley Jones — I’ve never heard a more poignant rendition of the wistful ”What’s the Use of Wond’rin’.” Also a treat: her hilarious take on Company‘s bride-with-cold-feet tongue twister ”Getting Married Today.”
While choreographer Ann Reinking makes creative use of rolling office chairs, there’s little dancing to speak of. And the only accompaniment is from bassist John Beal and pianist/co-creator Paul Ford, a.k.a.Patinkin’s ever-present musical director. Most important, there’s hardly any chitchat between songs. Patinkin does pause for a few moments to recall his audition for Evita, the show that made him and LuPone friends for life, but there’s none of that fake banter or forced audience interplay that typifies (and drags down) concerts like these. It’s just two hours of good old-fashioned musical theater. Even if you’re not a die-hard Mandy fan — ones who’s seen every solo show from Dress Casual to Mamaloshen (you/we know who you/we are) — or if you’ll always think of La LuPone as the mom from Life Goes On, you’ll still experience an enchanted Evening. A?
(Tickets: Telecharge.com or 800-432-7250)