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Broadway pairing of long ago still thrives

Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin

Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin

If you’ve ever wondered how to get a show onstage, pay attention to the way some Texas smarty got Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin to team up for a performance 25 years after they both starred in Broadway’s “Evita.”

A new arts center was opening five years ago, and they wanted LuPone and Patinkin.

“The presenter called my agent and said, “I have Mandy,’ and then called Mandy’s agent and said, ‘I have Patti.’”

Neither had actually committed at the time – but the ploy got the performers talking.

“I adore Mandy, and it’s a crime that we haven’t been onstage together since ‘Evita,’” LuPone says during a telephone interview while on vacation in South Carolina. “However, that’s show business.”

LuPone starred as Eva Peron in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “Evita.” Patinkin originated the role of Che, the revolutionary who as a one-man Greek chorus comments on the power-hungry Perons. Both won Tony Awards in 1980 for their performances.

The longtime friends began talking about creating a two-person cabaret, but LuPone told Patinkin she wasn’t sure she could commit to the creative process because she was starring in the Broadway revival of “Noises Off” at the time.

Patinkin said, “I’ll take care of it.”

And he did.

Since then, they’ve done several shows together. On Wednesday, the pair will stop in Tucson as part of their five-month tour of “An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin.” They have reworked a 2007 show that they performed in Philadelphia.

LuPone says it’s hard to characterize the musical revue she’s doing with her fellow Broadway star. It’s a mix of popular songs and some Broadway scenes.

The pair will be accompanied on piano by Patinkin’s longtime pianist, Paul Ford. But, basically, LuPone says, “It’s just Mandy and Patti.”

“Mandy is constantly creating and constantly changing it,” she says of the actor known for his roles in the TV series “Chicago Hope” and “Criminal Minds” and in such movies as “Yentl” and “The Princess Bride.” “It’s a different show from the show we did for the Richardson, Texas, benefit.”

She’ll wear black – because Patinkin wants her to – and they dance in two numbers, “April in Fairbanks” and “I Won’t Dance,” both choreographed by Ann Reinking.

“Neither of us are dancers,” LuPone confesses.

The show’s centerpieces are two songs from “Evita” – “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” and “Oh, What a Circus.” They also perform a scene from “Carousel.” Another show-stopper, LuPone says, is the love scene from “South Pacific.”

The ultimate theme is relationships – wanting them, finding them, struggling through them, keeping them, losing them and remembering them.

The revue is directed by Patinkin. “He’s done a great job, even though I cursed him because I had to learn new music on my vacation,” LuPone says. “Every time he comes up with an idea, it’s truly better than the last one. It’s an unbelievable joy to be onstage with Mandy – period. And to be onstage with Mandy, while Mandy is creating a piece for the two of us … it can’t be much better than that.”

LuPone, who also won a Tony in 2008 for playing Rose in “Gypsy,” says she can’t pick a favorite moment in the show.

“I don’t have a favorite number. … I don’t have a favorite play. I don’t have a favorite part. I don’t have a favorite anything. I’m lucky to be doing it at all.”

She doesn’t like to even suggest what might be high points. “I always feel as if I’m managed the audience by saying, ‘This is the emotional high point.’ “It will be different for everybody.”

LuPone and Patinkin are well-known as emotional, dramatic singers who can belt out a tune.

“But there are others who are equally as passionate in how they deliver their songs,” she says. “We are passionate and emotional performers, but I think he’s smarter than me. I’m probably more passionate, and he’s smarter, book-sensewise, intellectually. Mandy does a lot of deep thinking.”

LuPone and Patinkin’s tour will end in New Zealand. They’ll pick it up again next year.

“Hopefully,” LuPone says, “we’re going to be booked and booked and booked and booked, and I’m going to be saying, ‘Recession?’”



What: “An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin”

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: UA’s Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd.

Price: $42-$82

Info: 621-3341, uapresents.org

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For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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