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'An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin' -- 2.5 stars

An Evening with Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin.

An Evening with Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin. (Joan Marcus) Credit: An Evening with Patti Lupone an Mandy Patinkin. (Joan Marcus)

An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin
2.5 stars

It's called "An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin." But in light of how seriously they approach their material (and the fact they're dressed entirely in black), it would more aptly be titled "A Funeral with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin."

Both performers, who starred together in the original Broadway production of "Evita," have reputations for being difficult personalities. They're also known for extolling the virtues of Stephen Sondheim - after all, Patinkin starred in the original "Sunday in the Park With George," and LuPone reignited her career with the 2008 "Gypsy" revival.

It was a fun idea to bring them together for a joint concert, especially since they've previously excelled in countless solo concerts on Broadway and elsewhere. Neither has lost any vocal power whatsoever. The problem lies in this production's really weird execution.

As directed by Patinkin himself, this is a thoroughly austere and - except for a few silly bits - humorless concert. Accompanied by just a piano and bass, they tear through a large and varied stack of Broadway songs with barely any pauses or chitchat with the audience.

The strangest moments occur when they perform songs from "South Pacific" and "Carousel" with the accompanying dialogue. Mandy in particular is so intense you can feel the audience growing increasingly uncomfortable. Watching him portray Billy Bigalow from "Carousel" is, in fact, more than a little creepy.

The two hit their stride when reliving their past glories, and each receives a standing ovation after performing "Oh, What a Circus" (Patinkin) and "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" (LuPone), both from "Evita." She also delivers a fiery "Everything's Coming Up Roses" from "Gypsy."

LuPone and Patinkin ought to check out Hugh Jackman's glitzy one-man show, which is the polar opposite of theirs in terms of atmosphere. While they certainly don't need backup dancers or a disco number, they'd benefit from lightening up, adding a band or simply acknowledging the audience.


If you go: "An Evening with Patti LuPone and mandy Patinkin" plays through Jan. 13 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. 243 W. 47th St., 212-239-6200, telecharge.com

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