Opening on Monday at the Barrymore, “An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin” offers a genial sojourn in musical theater-land with two of Broadway’s leading practitioners in the field.
Fans of LuPone and Patinkin should find their show a highly enjoyable (if not revelatory) session, with the co-stars in good professional form and apparently having a lovely time performing together.
Conceived by Patinkin with musical director Paul Ford – who nimbly plays the piano onstage – the swiftly-paced two-act event consists of more than 30 songs drawn from musicals and vintage films.
Expect a wisely-chosen collection of familiar tunes: Medleys from “South Pacific,” “Carousel” and “Merrily We Roll Along” permit Patinkin and LuPone to try on classic he-and-she roles they never played. They also tackle several relative rarities; LuPone’s forthright delivery of “I Want a Man” and Patinkin’s lyrical styling of “I Have the Room Above Her” are perhaps their most notable selections in that vein.
Reprising a few of their former hits, Patinkin winningly clowns away in “The God-Why-Don’t-You-Love-Me Blues” and LuPone whips full-tilt through “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” Going in for charm, they breezily render “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and have fun with the mock-romantics of “April in Fairbanks.” A perky “I Won’t Dance” sees them sit down for a little tap session.
Of course, LuPone and Patinkin oblige with their star-making arias from “Evita,” the 1980 show in which their friendship was forged. His impassioned “Oh, What a Circus” and her resolute “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina” brought spectators to their feet. Wish they had time to do “The Waltz for Eva and Che,” but this mostly chat-free “Evening” can afford only so many numbers in a two-hour program.
Elegantly backstopped by Ford and bass player John Beal, LuPone and Patinkin are both in fairly relaxed vocal form that permits them to summon up their most demanding notes without strain. Looking trim in their black duds and effectively lit in changing moods by Eric Cornwell, the charismatic twosome expertly beguile their audience amid a small forest of ghost lights – those old-fashioned light poles that are left burning at center stage in theaters between shows.
For the most part, few blazing sparks are struck during their cozy “Evening,” but LuPone and Patinkin obviously are very comfortable performing together and these bona-fide Broadway babies decidedly generate a steady glow.
“An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin” continues through Jan. 13 at the Barrymore Theatre, 243 W. 47th St., New York. Call (212) 239-6200 or visit www.pattiandmandyonbroadway.com.