Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sing Casual

Back from Strathmore for the first of a two-night gig by Mandy Patinkin, with pianist and occasional duet partner Paul Ford, on the "Dress Casual" tour.

When I saw that Harry Chapin was among the songwriters that Mandy intended to cover in this tour, I was a bit disappointed because "Cat's in the Cradle" was on the setlist the last time I saw Mandy (New Year's Eve at the Kennedy Center a number of years ago). But even though the material was familiar, the execution was remarkable (and in the case of the Chapin piece, quite touching, for reasons that I won't spoil).

The 1-hour, 45-minute set was full of lyrically complex and dramatically challenging songs from the best of Broadway, ranging from Les Miz ("Bring Him Home" opened the show) to Secret Garden, and of course Sunday in the Park with George. Mandy's tone was richer than ever, and his range is nothing short of astonishing.

Flaws? As I mentioned, there were some very challenging lyrics, like the "Trouble in River City" and "He Doesn't Know the Territory" numbers from Music Man. He lost his place several times, but handled it as part of the show. At one point he called out to the audience, "what's the line?" and sure enough a chorus of half a dozen guys in the back provided the correct lyric. The power of the voice more than made up for the lyric issues.

The two Music Man numbers got a couple of fun twists - "do certain words start creeping into his vocabulary--words like 'Twitter'?" and the crooked salesman who sold boys' bands was not Harold Hill but Bernie Madoff!

It's all entertainment. Mandy cracked on the group of latecomers down front (the ushers erroneously led them in as Mandy was sliding into his next song. He hit "abort" and started interrogating the latecomers on what took them so long to get here). Other than that, there wasn't much in the way of interaction with the audience, but he reached up into the upper tiers to draw everyone in.

There is nothing casual about that kind of star quality.

love, hosaa
being alive

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