Magazine article The Sondheim Review

A Tale of Romance

Magazine article The Sondheim Review

A Tale of Romance

Article excerpt

LuPone and Patinkin demonstrate the art of musical storytelling

With apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein, June 23, 2009, at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles was truly an enchanted evening. Thirty years after they first shared the stage in Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita, Broadway legends Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin were together again, this time in concert, singing as only these two can about the trials, tribulations and triumphs of love via songs from the crème de la crème of Broadway composers.

An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin was created by Patinkin (who also directed) and his long-time collaborator, musical director/pianist Paul Ford. Songs were culled from Sondheim shows including Company, Gypsy, Follies and Into the Woods, in addition to Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's Show Boat, Irving Berlin's Call Me Madam and Evita, as well as such lesser-known shows as John Kander and Fred Ebb's Flora the Red Menace and 70, Girls, 70, Kern's Roberta and Frank Loesser's Neptune's Daughter - all arranged to tell a tale of romance from nervous new beginnings through breakup, reconciliation, marriage, frustration, comfortable familiarity and till-death devotion.

More than a night of glorious singing, it was a night of masterful storytelling. LuPone and Patinkin are consummate performers who revel in the precision and specificity of language and developed relationship, and they have a clear respect for the story being told in song and the music that binds it all together. They never spoke a word of dialogue the entire evening; instead, they let the words and music carry them, and the audience happily went right along.

Wearing de rigueur black, LuPone and Patinkin entered a stage dressed only in a garden of ghost lights with different-colored bulbs (David Korins, production design; Eric Cornwell, lighting). At stage left sat a small table with glasses of water and two swivel chairs that would be spotlighted later in the show. Upstage, Ford on piano and John Beal on bass provided expert musical accompaniment. Simplicity was key.

The evening began with a collection of songs from South Pacific (including "Some Enchanted Evening"), supported by excerpts small and large from Company's "Another Hundred People" and "Getting Married Today," "When" from Evening Primrose and "Loving You" from Passion. …

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