Patti. Mandy. Together. On stage. Live. In concert.
Need I say more?

Broadway aficionados will need no more than these dozen words as reason to head on up to the Thousand Oaks Performing Arts Center to catch Miss LuPone and Mr. Patinkin’s thoroughly marvelous An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin.

Still, Miss LuPone and Mr. Patinkin deserve more than these few words, considering the event status of their joint concert and the many unexpected delights it offers.

Since there may be a few out there for whom the stars’ names are not household words, here’s a quick biographical recap.

Not only did Patti LuPone originate the role of Evita Peron in Broadway’s Evita, she went on to win the 1980 Tony Award for her performance, a feat she repeated in 2008 for her star turn as Mama Rose in Gypsy. Between those two award victories came leading roles in the Broadway revivals of Anything Goes and Sweeney Todd, triumphs on London’s West End, and a slew of recordings. Not surprisingly, Evita’s “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina” and Gypsy’s “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” are two of the highest high points in An Evening With Patti And Mandy.

Mandy Patinkin rose to Broadway stardom opposite LuPone in his Tony-winning role as Che in Evita, then scored a second Tony win for the title role in Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday In The Park With George. Movie buffs will remember Patinkin for his starring role opposite Barbra Streisand in Yentl, while TV fans know the multitalented Patinkin from his Emmy-winning lead performance on Chicago Hope. Since there couldn’t be a Mandy Patinkin In Concert performance without at least one Sondheim solo, Patinkin includes Evita’s “Oh What A Circus” as well as the tour de force “Buddy’s Blues,” from his appearance in 1985’s Follies In Concert.

Still, it’s the two stars’ moments together that make An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin so special, one thrilling moment after another, which the stars deliver in their widely imitated yet inimitable signature styles.

Numerous composers are represented over the course of the evening’s two hours, from Sondheim’s “Another Hundred People,” “Getting Married Today,” “Loving You,” and “Everybody Says Don’t” to Kander & Ebb’s “A Quiet Thing” and “Coffee In A Cardboard Cup” to Alan Menkin & Howard Ashman’s “Somewhere That’s Green” to Murray Grand’s hilarious “April In Fairbanks.”

Ultimately, it’s the three mini-musicals that LuPone and Patinkin perform that provide the evening’s most unforgettable segments, three classic Broadway shows that won’t be the first to pop into your head when you hear the names Patti and Mandy, nor even perhaps the hundredth.

First up are the two stars as South Pacific’s Nellie Forbush and Emile de Becque (“A Cockeyed Optimist,” “Twin Soliloquies,” “Some Enchanted Evening”) followed by “The Hills of Tomorrow,” “Merrily We Roll Along,” “Old Friends,” and “Like It Was” from Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, and finally, as Carousel’s Julie Jordan and Billy Bigalow, “You’re a Queer One, Julie Jordan,” “If I Loved You,” “What’s the Use of Wond’rin’“ and “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and if Julie and Billy are roles which the stars may be decades past playing, what does it matter? If this Julie and this Billy don’t bring tears to your eyes, you’re probably made of stone.

There’s virtually no patter interrupting the song segments, the sole exception being the duo’s reminiscences of the production that brought them together and made them lifelong friends, told so extemporaneously that it seems scarcely possible that the twosome have been saying the same lines more times than either could possibly count, including 63 times during the concert’s Broadway run earlier this year.

An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin is conceived by Patinkin and musical director-pianist Paul Ford, directed with flair by Patinkin and, features dance consulting by Ann Reinking. (A sequence performed entirely seated on movable office chairs is a delightful dance highlight.) Ford and bassist John Beal provide expert onstage accompaniment.

The production also includes designs by David Korins, a striking lighting design by Eric Cornwell, crisp sound design by Daniel J. Gerhard and costumes by Jon Can Coskunses. An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin is produced by Staci Levine, The Dodgers, Jon B. Platt and Jessica R. Jenen.

You don’t have to be a Patti LuPone/Mandy Patinkin fanatic to enjoy the two stars onstage together reliving musical memories and making new ones. The evening provides two hours of magic from start to finish.

Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 Thousand Oaks Boulevard, Thousand Oaks.

–Steven Stanley
March 20, 2012

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