Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Mandy Patinkin Celebrates Sondheim
Many things can be said about Mandy Patinkin but boring is not one of them. Starting on June 18th he brings his robust style to the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater in Mandy Patinkin In Concert: Celebrating Sondheim as part of their ongoing Sondheim Celebration. Celebrating Sondheim is a concert developed by Patinkin with his frequent collaborator and accompanist, Paul Ford.
The pair have developed a program void of any comments or set-up that would normally be directed to an audience. In fact, Mr. Patinkin does not address the audience at all. With just a stool, a ghost light and Mr. Ford at the piano, Patinkin simply takes stage and sings. Instead of talking, he allows the music to do it for him.
This concert is a history lesson as well as a tribute to Stephen Sondheim and it features some of Sondheim's finest songs. Understandably, several songs from Sunday In The Park With George are performed (Mr. Patinkin garnered a Tony nomination for his portrayal of Georges Seurat in the Pulitzer Prize winning musical). There are also a number of selections from Company, Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along, and Follies.
Without the usual patter one gets used to at programs like this, Celebrating Sondheim feels like a 1 1/2 hour medley. The songs just flow from one to the next with Patinkin barely taking a breath. He starts strong with "Lesson #8" and never loses momentum. His interpretations of each piece are right on the mark. Patinkin delivers a sentimental rendition of "Johanna", an irreverent take on "Rich and Happy," and is incredibly funny during "You Could Drive A Person Crazy." However, he really cuts loose during "Broadway Baby" and gives moving performances of "Take The Moment" and "Sunday."
Celebrating Sondheim is definitely for the Sondheim aficionado. Although, Mr. Patinkin is in excellent voice, the lack of commentary may be disappointing to audience members who have little knowledge of Stephen Sondheim's work. Nonetheless, this energetic evening is a wonderful addition to the Sondheim Celebration.
The Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater