Sunday, April 27, 2014

Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin at Stanford

A friend gave us tickets. No fan of musical theater am I, but how can you pass this up? And I must confess, it's a great show: a dynamic yet intimate songfest by two consummate pros.

The program leans heavily on Sondheim and Rodgers and Hammerstein, with a couple of obligatory Evita crowdpleasers, a welcome smattering of Jerome Kern, and some songs I'd certainly never heard of, such as Murray Grand's amusing "April in Fairbanks." As a jazz fan, I prefer my Rodgers with Hart, but there's no question RR saved some of his best melodies for Oscar, including "If I Loved You," performed here. As for Sondheim, I can't figure out how mere mortals can sing some of that stuff, but here's proof that it can be done.

The minimalist staging fully exploited the theatre-in-the-round of Stanford's new Bing Concert Hall, and included a smidge of audience participation and a cute dance sequence on rolling desk chairs. On the down side, once again, the Bing's acoustics: What kind of music would sound really good in this beautiful but finicky hall? From where we sat the voices were over-amplified and came from the speakers somewhere overhead rather than the stage. You have to wonder whether performers with the pipes of these two really need amplification. Anyway, that amounts to a quibble. If they pass through your town, you should go!

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