Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Broadway Legends Enjoyable, Not Enthralling

Theatre/Concert Review

An Evening with Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin
Cadillac Palace Theatre, Chicago

Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin are among the very best Broadway vocalists I--or anyone--will ever hear, with such a gift for phrasing and interpretation that it was a nice reminder that there are still some talents far beyond anything American Idol will ever find. Thus, it was a joy just to see and listen to them at their joint performance last night at the Cadillac Palace--where they play through Sunday--and they sounded great on every piece they performed.

But while I respect their choice to avoid the more obvious approach of "we met on Evita, now Mandy's going to sing High Flying Adored before Patti belts out Don't Cry For Me Argentina" for a loosely-linked romantic narrative structure and less obvious song selections, at the end of the night I think I would have better enjoyed the former approach. Or at least a mix of it.

The song that got the greatest response was Lupone's "Everything's Coming Up Roses" from Gypsy, which really didn't fit into the structure. Would it have killed them to also do "Argentina" (which was listed in the program but omitted), "Finishing the Hat" and a few other real crowd-pleasers. I mean, I love Sondheim and am paying simply to hear him speak on Thursday, but even he might not know the entire score of Merrily We Roll Along.

Would it also have killed them to offer a "Good Evening Chicago" or even an occasional "Thank You"? What could've made this performance--which still came off as a revue and was less rewarding than seeing Lupone in Gypsy or Patinkin on my "Sunday..." DVD--a bit more special was getting a sense of engagement with these wonderful performers.

All this said, while not as great as I would've hoped, the show was definitely well worth the $18 I paid at the box office for an upper balcony seat. To see two truly amazing singers for just a song is a bargain I'll highly recommend, even if it easily could've been a good bit more enthralling.

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