Roots Report

Being Alive: A night with Mandy Patinkin

Okee dokee folks… I was fortunate to be on the press list for last night’s Mandy Patinkin show at the Zeiterion in New Bedford and my plus one was mom! As usual, I attended to review and photograph the concert. My mother loves these types of performances and will usually take to Facebook immediately after and post her review. Since she wrote such a thorough review, I decided to use this for the content of the Patinkin piece. She has written a few reviews and interviews for Motif in the past, so why not now? Below is what she thought of Patinkin’s Zeiterion performance. Read on…

It was full house attendance at the Zeiterion Theater in New Bedford last evening in anticipation of Mandy Patinkin’s Being Alive tour stop. As a longtime fan of Mandy as a musical theater performer – and, may I admit? also “Yentyl,” he was so cute – I have many times enjoyed his local tour visits, each differing in content and style. It’s always an interesting event – sometimes merry, often silly, a lot of melancholy – and they are always pleasurable and an honor to have experienced.

Mandy was dressed in black and the darkened stage, illuminated by simple stage lighting or occasionally only by a ghost light, and sparsely furnished with a piano and chair. This was effectively drawing attention to Patinkin and Adam Ben-David, his fantastic pianist, without distraction. I’m always amazed at the physical stamina (a 1 ¾ hr. show with no intermission!) and his memory of all the very wordy lyrical choices. Patinkin is a visually-focused and physically descriptive singer/song stylist and a consummate story teller. He’s amusing and VERY quirky as well, often taking cues from the behavior of the audience. This audience, itself, was surprising in its enthusiasm and appreciation with shout outs, etc. At one point he had the audience on their feet doing the “Hokey Pokey!”

The evening’s loose story performance began with a medley of genuine oldies – “Inch Worm” (now I can’t get it out of my head), “School Days,” etc. Then, among others, Croce’s “Time in a Bottle,” “Easy Street” (not Annie’s), and Ella Fitzgerald’s “Tisket a Tasket.” A real Mandy workout was Music Man’s “Rock Island” traveling salesman song – a patter type. Whew! Take a breath. I was personally impressed by his emotionally wrenching “Wandering Boy” by Randy Newman. After that, came Lyle Lovett’s “If I Had a Boat,” displaying a childlike wistfulness. And, he said, “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” Some REAL crowd-pleasers were Freddie Mercury’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and from Rogers & Hammerstein’s Carousel, the beautiful story song “Soliloquy.”

I must include that Patinkin DID strike his Princess Bride Inigo Montoya “Prepare to Die” pose TWICE to the appreciation of fans of his many talent’s OTHER than music.

Mandy Patinkin, being fluent in Yiddish, performed a medley – “White Christmas,” “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,”, and “God Bless America” – in that language. He told a story about the meaning of the 18 quarters he had as change in a his pocket, and chai – a Hebrew word for life, or “good luck.” Coins and other items in quantities of 18 are often given as a gift. He went on to shake those 18 quarters as a percussive tool during one of his numbers.

He closed the set with “Being Alive,” by Sondheim from Company, another crowd pleaser. His encore was “Over the Rainbow,” performed partly in Yiddish. And, as suggested by his son Gideon, Mandy acknowledged the contributors of the music he sang by reading the song titles and composers of each. . A standing ovation was given, which these days seems almost obligatory, but in this case – WELL DESERVED.

There you have it, mom’s review. I must add that I was very surprised and pleased to hear the many “F bombs he dropped during the night. Not something I expected from him. Patinkin is quite funny and played off the rowdy crowd’s shout outs and at one point comparing it to Marjorie Taylor Greene and then symbolically flipping her (MTG) the bird! I was good to see the vast diversity of ages in attendance – from teenagers to seniors! Patinkin is surely a talent that can be and was enjoyed by all. If you missed this performance, don’t fret, Patinkin will be back in the area later in the Spring when he will be at the Garde Theatre in New London on Saturday, April 29. For more about this one, “Move On’ over to: gardearts.org.

You can find my Mandy Patinkin concert photographs at motifri.com/fuzeksfotos. Don’t forget that you can listen to my many podcasts at: motifri.com/rootsreportpodcast. That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. Mom says thank you as well!

johnfuzek.com

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