News Column

Concert review: Mandy Patinkin lights up Merrill Auditorium

October 19, 2013

YellowBrix

Oct. 19--After his show in Maine on Friday night, Mandy Patinkin will do one more in Massachusetts on Saturday, and then it's off to Morocco, where he'll continue filming the hit Showtime series "Homeland," on which he plays CIA Director Saul Berenson.

Or perhaps you remember him as Dr. Jeffrey Geiger on "Chicago Hope." He won an Emmy for that role. Surely you remember him as the feisty Spaniard Inigo Montoya in the classic film "The Princess Bride." One can only imagine how many times he's uttered the line "Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father.... Prepare to die."

But before Patinkin became a star of the big and small screen, he was a singer and that continues to be his true love. He won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Che in "Evita" and was nominated a few years later for "Sunday in the Park With George."

The man has the voice of an angel -- and all these years later, at 60, he's still got it.

Portland Ovations, which brought Patinkin to Merrill Auditorium for Friday night's performance, said there were about 1,000 people in attendance. The tour was called "Dress Casual" and Patinkin was accompanied by his longtime pianist, Paul Ford. The two gentleman walked onstage in dark pants and black long-sleeve T-shirts, both living up to the name of the show. Patinkin even wore sneakers. The stage was brightly lit and looked like a rehearsal set with a couple of ladders and assorted bins strewn about. It, too, fit the name of the show.

Patinkin began with the old vaudeville number "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" and threw in some silent film-era theatrical pantomime, drawing laughs from the crowd. A few songs later it was "Movies Were Movies" from the 1974 musical "Mack & Mabel," and then it was on to Stephen Sondheim's "Broadway Baby" from the musical "Follies." Patinkin's take on "The Begat" from "Finian's Rainbow" was another terrific show tune and it was followed by "Where did Robinson Crusoe Go" from yet another musical called "Robinson Crusoe, Jr."

Never one to stay in one place for too long, Patinkin veered off the Broadway path and into Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," a showcase for his incredible voice. He's also a comfortable storyteller and regaled the audience with the story of meeting Kathryn Grody in New York City in the late 1970s. It was indeed a sweet tale. The two have been married for 36 years. He used the story as a springboard into a celebratory Yiddish song and before the audience knew it, every single person was doing the hokeypokey with Patinkin.

Two songs from "Sunday in the Park with George" followed: "Children and Art" and "Sunday." Both were exceptional.

But then Patinkin veered perhaps a little too off the beaten path and into a lengthy piece that combined "Oh Shenandoah," "My Country 'Tis of Thee" and a reading of "The Gettysburg Address." It went on for a bit too long.

However, redemption was found soon after with "Paper Moon," which also included bits of other tunes. Patinkin does love a medley, or rather songs that flow in and out of each other.

The last song of the night was one of the best. It was a cover of Tom Waits' "House Where Nobody Lives," and Patinkin and Ford owned it. "Once it held laughter, once it held dreams. Did they throw it away? Did they know what it means?" sang Patinkin from the heart. Just gorgeous.

Patinkin and Ford exited to an exuberant standing ovation and were right back out there to put a bow on the evening with another Sondheim number. This time it was a mash-up of "Being Alive" and "Sorry-Grateful" from "Company." It was a sensational note to close the hour-and-a-half show on.

Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:

aponti@pressherald.com

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(c)2013 the Portland Press Herald (Portland, Maine)

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