Patinkin's musical theater a hit
Deer Valley • Mandy Patinkin is versatile. He has to be to pull off a one-man show.
And Saturday night's performance at Deer Valley showcased his range of talents as actor, singer, and entertainer.
For many Utahns, Patinkin is most familiar as an actor in roles such as Inigo Montoya in "The Princess Bride" or Saul Berenson in "Homeland." But this concert featured Patinkin doing musical theater with some other repertoire, as well.
While the audience seemed to enjoy most everything Patinkin presented, his strongest performances were those from the musical theater genre. His selections from "The Music Man" and "Sunday in the Park with George" showed clearly what has made Patinkin a star of the musical stage.
Even for a Broadway singer, Patinkin was particularly dramatic and expressive in his performance. He's a gifted storyteller, and gives meticulous attention to detail in expressing the message of all the words of the song.
As a singer, Patinkin had a nice stylistic range. He could do character (not to mention rapid-fire tongue-twister), as in "Song about Russian Composers;" he could do expressive, as in "Sunday" from "Sunday in the Park with George;" and he could open up and hit it out of the ballpark on the big numbers.
Unfortunately, his vibrato tended to be a little wide at times, particularly on the more subdued numbers. He also struggled with the altitude a fact that he lightheartedly acknowledged to the audience. But to his credit, he never sounded winded until after he finished a song.
In many ways, Patinkin came across as an artist, trying to achieve a unique masterpiece with each song. He generally tended to choose unconventional arrangements, as with the sweet, poignant opener "It's Not Easy Being Green."
Sometimes he chose unconventional approaches, like he did with Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." He sang it with all the drama and pathos of an operatic performance. While it was certainly a fresh approach to an old favorite, it didn't entirely gel.
Also unconventional: he brought his own conductor. Utah Symphony guest conductor Jerry Steichen led the orchestra in the symphonic opener, but when Patinkin took the stage, so did conductor Eric Stern.
Patinkin also brought in his own sound designer, light designer, and producer. They many not have been worth the extra expense; the sound designer occasionally added effects (like a concert-hall reverberation), but frankly, it sounded out of place and distracting. Likewise, the light designer used a couple of effects, like projecting moving colored light patterns against the back of the tent, or using a strong purple light on the front stage performers, but again, it seemed more like a gimmick than an enhancement.
The Utah Symphony started the evening with a musical nod to Patinkin by playing a medley from "Evita" (Patinkin sang the role of "Che" in the original production), a Sondheim piece (Patinkin played the role of George in "Sunday in the Park with George"), and a medley from "The Music Man."
Bottom line • Patinkin entertained, but his sound and lighting designers were gimmicky.
With • Paul Ford and The Utah Symphony
Where • Deer Valley
When • Reviewed Saturday, Aug. 3