Two tremendous Tony-winning triple-threats make a grand return to the town that made them household names over thirty years ago in EVITA and set up show shop for two months - yes, Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin are back on Broadway with their new double-showcase concert spectacular, AN EVENING WITH Patti LuPone AND Mandy Patinkin. In honor of these two theatrical heavyweights returning to the Broadway concert stage in this new special limited engagement beginning November 16, today we are shining a bright spotlight on some of Patti and Mandy's most beloved and most electrifying moments in their exceptional careers on stages and on screens large and small - EVITA being the white-hot beginnings of it all. EVITA opened on Broadway back in 1979 under the expert and assured direction of theatrical icon Hal Prince and went on to win 7 Tony Awards, including top honors for LuPone, Patinkin, Prince and the show's authors - Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice (the latter of whom won two) - as well as Best Musical. So, with moments from LES MISERABLES, SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, GYPSY, FOLLIES, SWEENEY TODD, THE WILD PARTY and much, much more - in addition to some clips from their concert appearances of more recent vintage, such as when they both appeared in the thrilling SONDHEIM! THE BIRTHDAY CONCERT - today's countdown is sure to perfectly set the stage for the incredible virtuosity to be expected from these titanic talents come Wednesday's first preview (with the show itself running through the holidays, until January 13) at the Ethel Barrymore Theater.
The Diva & The Showman
In 2011, there are roughly two household names who are known primarily for their work on the Great White Way over the course of their collective careers - and those names are undoubtedly Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin. The seemingly coincidental nature of their breakout roles coming in the same show was, on reflection, no coincidence at all - it was yet another stroke of genius from master director Hal Prince. While Elaine Paige - currently belting out "I'm Still Here" on Broadway eight times a week in the Kennedy Center revival of Stephen Sondheim's FOLLIES - originated the massive title role of EVITA in the West End, Hal Prince started fresh and used an all-American cast for the premiere here, which was held in Los Angeles before the musical moved to Broadway. The roles of Eva Peron and Che (Guevera) offered ample opportunities for these new stars to show their considerable musical mettle over the course of the rock opera's running time - and they took on the challenge with visible, palpable relish that was stultifying to nearly every other young actor of that age. These two just had it - all. EVITA was lightning in a bottle and, to this day, remains one of the most striking, sophisticated and spectacular shows in recent Broadway history - so much so that the hotly anticipated revival coming later this season starring Ricky Martin, Elena Roger and Michael Cerveris will actually be the first revival since the show's debut decades ago. While they both went on to middling careers in Hollywood and TV ventures - Patinkin appearing in YENTYL with Barbra Streisand; LuPone essaying a role in Steven Spielberg's 1941; Patinkin finding late-career success on CHICAGO HOPE and, more recently, CRIMINAL MINDS; LuPone starring for several seasons on the drama LIFE GOES ON - it was the stage that cemented their place in the pantheon of Great American entertainers. Yet, how to better a huge hit with as meaty of roles as those that they had in EVITA? Well, the Tony-winning Best Musical LES MISERABLES and the Pulitzer Prize-winning SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE are certainly a pretty phenomenal start. Always daring to take on new challenges and continually fly in the face of fear, as they have their entire careers - with roles in the post-millennium original musicals THE WILD PARTY and WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN clear-cut evidence of that; as well as both of their considerable work in the realm of Sondheim; FOLLIES, SUNDAY, GYPSY, EVENING PRIMROSE, SWEENEY TODD and more included - Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin may very well be the last truly great theatre-centric performers to emerge during the final few decades of the 20th century and leave an unmistakable mark in the minds and hearts of many, many enraptured audiences around the world. And, they still do.
So, let's go back to where it all began and take a look at some selected moments from the original Broadway production of EVITA starring Patti LuPone, Mandy Patinkin and Bob Gunton.
First, here is the original Broadway cast of EVITA performing a slightly truncated version of the Act One Finale, "A New Argentina". Is that a belt or a yodel - technically, it's both!
Next, check out the commercial for the show. Unforgettable!
Here is an especially appreciable YouTube curiosity - a performance capture of Mandy Patinkin and the original Broadway cast performing the rollicking, rocking and catchy "The Money Kept Rolling In" in the actual Broadway show in 1980.
Closing out the EVITA contingent of our countdown, check out this spine-tingling performance by Patti LuPone at the 1980 Grammy Awards, singing the show's most famous anthem, "Don't Cry For Me Argentina".
While Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin did not have the opportunity to do another show together between EVITA and next week's new Broadway double-bill, they struck out on their own and made impressive marks with their sensational stage work in the 1980s - especially LuPone in her Olivier Award-winning creation of the role of Fantine in the international smash pop opera LES MISERABLES and Patinkin particularly notable for his sensitive and moving portrayal of George in Sondheim's SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE. Both proved that equal commitment to the craft of acting and the art of singing - as well as fearless belief in the material - is the method by which to make magic onstage eight times a week. Over and over again. And, they did - with bonus nods to Patinkin's spirited and manic Buddy in the NY Philharmonic's FOLLIES and LuPone with her daffy and delirious Reno Sweeney in the Lincoln Center revival of Cole Porter's ANYTHING GOES. Time and time again, LuPone and Patinkin prove why they are tops in talent in the clips below.
Kicking off the LuPone section, witness her perilously high kicks and bravura belting in this Tony Awards performance of "Anything Goes" on the 1988 Tony Awards.
Switching up the mood entirely, here is Lupone's impassioned and engaging "I Dreamed A Dream" from LES MISERABLES in a ten-years-later reprise - in costume, no less - at the 1992 Royal Variety Performance.
Now, let's move over to Mandy and see what he was up to during the 1980s.
The answer clearly seems to be: a whole hell of a lot of Sondheim! And, what could be better?
First up, here is Mandy Patinkin's incomparable three-in-one take on the tricky follies number "Buddy's Blues" from FOLLIES: IN CONCERT. Talk about tongue-twisting!
And, here is Patinkin with Bernadette Peters in the original production of SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, directed by James Lapine, in the penultimate scene in the show - "Move On".
Jumping ahead 25 years, here are the two teaming up again and doing the song once again, this time at SONDHEIM! THE BIRTHDAY CONCERT, which, incidentally, also included performances by Patti LuPone!
And, since the countdown could not possibly be complete without it, here is LuPone's positively ferocious "Ladies Who Lunch" from the same night.
Lastly, let us move to the 1990s and 2000s to see what Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin have been up to in recent years - and, it's a lot!
Here is Mandy Patinkin performing his oh-so-idiosyncratic and strangely alluring take on "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" from THE WIZARD OF OZ taken from a mid-90s E! talkshow.
Now, for a taste of what we can expect from Mandy's solo moments in AN EVENING WITH Patti LuPone AND Mandy Patinkin, here is his invested reading of SOUTH PACIFIC's "Bali Ha'i".
Just in time for the holiday season, here is a rare 1989 video of Mandy Patinkin singing "White Christmas" and "Jingle Bells" in a special TV appearance - with all-too apropos white piano, natch.
With Mandy's most recent Broadway stage musical appearance, here he is with the original Broadway cast of THE WILD PARTY at the 2000 Tony Awards. Terrifying - and truly terrific.
No one can blast to the rafters quite like Ms. LuPone, and here she is at the White House doing what she was born to do - on Cole Porter's "Blow, Gabriel, Blow", to boot!
Now, take a look at Patti LuPone on her 1990s nighttime TV drama LIFE GOES ON performing Sondheim's "Broadway Baby" from FOLLIES as her character on the show, Libby Thatcher.
In what is perhaps the greatest role of her lifetime - EVITA included - here is Patti LuPone absolutely slaying "Everything's Coming Up Roses" and the last scene from Act One of GYPSY on the 2008 Tony Awards, where she took home her second Tony Award for Best Actress.
Now, here is Patti at SONDHEIM! THE BIRTHDAY CONCERT with the upcoming Peron in the Broadway revival of EVITA - and her co-star in the John Doyle revival of the musical thriller - Michael Cerveris; alongside her other Sweeney - from the NY Philharmonic concert - George Hearn; all three singing the SWEENEY TODD first curtain number, "A Little Priest", with delectably delicious and hilarious results.
Last, here is a collection of clips from Ms. LuPone's most recent non-concert Broadway stage venture - WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN.
As a special bonus, here is the commercial for AN EVENING WITH Patti LuPone AND Mandy Patinkin.
So, do you prefer The Diva or The Showman? Why should we even have to choose?! They both are the best Broadway has to offer - so, which performance of each superstar is your personal favorite? With so many stupendous choices, picking is almost as hard as thinking of missing either of them in whatever they do next! To quote SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, "So many possibilities…." Yet, what show could they potentially do together and re-team again? Any suggestions?