For nine performances only, the Ahmanson Theatre is presenting An Evening with Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin. These two met in 1968 as part of the legendary first class at Juilliard. Later they starred together in Evita. They have both won numerous awards and both have reputations, however unfairly, as being divas; she for stopping shows and throwing people out of the theatre if she sees a camera, texting, etc., he for quitting major television series in midstream. Both are considered extraordinary artists and their performing together can only be considered, as the hype says, “a once in a lifetime event.”
The two mega-stars follow on the heels of Dame Edna and they are worthy successors. Each shines in a particular style, she freewheeling and even a little sloppy in her carriage and delivery, he precise in his every move. Both displayed their remarkable voices.
Patinkin, who seems to have put the evening together, does a marvelous job of creating variety, with only a few chairs and some on-stage theatre lights. Loosely, the songs tell the story of a relationship going through what relationships go through. The numbers are mainly from Sondheim or Rodgers and Hammerstein, with some Jerome Kern, E.Y. Harburg, Kander and Ebb, Irving Berlin, and Lloyd Webber thrown in.
Patinkin is dazzling in the way he is able to put a series of songs together, first from South Pacific and then Carousel, into mini-musicals with the other songs acting as the glue or the segues between sections. Patti Lupone sings “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” as a sort of extra, but what a treat to get to hear her sing it again after all these years. She also sings “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from her recent Broadway outing as Mama Rose in Gypsy. For me it was certainly an odd presentation, slurring her words and sliding from note to note at times, but then it did win her the Tony.
Patinkin was brilliant in his singing and in his execution. Every move, every nuance was worked out with exact precision. His rendition of “The God-Why-Don’t-You-Love-Me Blues” brought down the house and was a perfect example of his control. He was still, whereas Lupone tended to wander and move about at will. Two different styles, two superb performers. An Evening with Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin plays at the Ahmanson Theatre until June 29th. Catch it if you can!