Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Friday, 22 November 2013
An Evening With Mandy Patinkin & Nathan Gunn, Nov 21, 2013 ****1/2
Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne, Nov 21, 2013 (Sydney Nov 26, Brisbane Nov 28) Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: ****1/2 Review also published in Herald Sun online on Nov 22, 2013 and later in print. KH
Mandy Patinkin & Nathan Gunn
Mandy Patinkin perform live is like watching musical alchemy. He is
Patinkin (even his name
sparkles!) is a beacon of American musicals, TV and film (The Princess Bride,
Homeland), and is joined on stage by the distinguished US baritone, Nathan
Gunn, and two virtuoso pianists (Julie Jordan Gunn, Paul Ford).
than being a curated, thematic program, the evening is a collection of Patinkin
and Gunn’s favourite tunes including opera, musical theatre and American
classics, all linked with stories, banter and jokes.
could rhapsodise for hours on Patinkin’s consummate professionalism, charismatic
stage presence and his impeccable timing and delivery, but words seem too tepid
to describe his inspired, live performance.
two men’s styles are polar opposites, with Patinkin capering about in sneakers
and casual black clothing while Gunn looks classically formal in a tuxedo.
bright, pure upper register and idiosyncratic vibrato make his voice utterly
distinctive and recognisable, and he creates a strange and wonderful harmony
with Gunn’s dark, velvety baritone.
is a master of the operatic style and his rich and emotive renditions of If I
Loved You (Carousel) and If Ever I Should Leave You (Camelot) are moving and
remains the overwhelming star of
the evening, despite the marvellous collision of vocal styles and the genuine
generosity and warmth between the pair.
has an easy charm, a delicious wit, a surprisingly lithe, muscular physicality
and sensuality, and he inhabits every song, immersing himself physically and
emotionally in character, story, lyric and music.
song surges with a wave of dramatic energy until it reaches its passionate
is a renowned exponent of Stephen Sondheim’s music and, in Ballad of Booth from
Sondheim’s Assassins, he brings to vibrating life Lincoln’s obsessive assassin,
John Wilkes Booth.
expresses Sondheim’s complex, dramatic and passionate qualities in his nuanced
performance of two songs from Sunday In The Park With George, magically
conjuring an entire, vivid and passionate world in the signature song, Sunday.
performs a remarkable, unique version of Bohemian Rhapsody and a vivacious
rendition of Rockabye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody that pulsates with energy.
laughs come thick and fast with Patinkin’s audacious, comic sensibilities and,
with Gunn, he creates hilarious Yiddish-English versions of Maria from West
Side Story, and Bing Crosby’s White Christmas.
between the songs, Patinkin and Gunn perform a startling patter poem about
dodgy salesmen (think Bernie Madoff), a riotous, rapid-fire, hand-puppet
routine, and Patinkin tickles the audience with his jelly-legged cowboy
one minor hiccup is a chunk of Americana – Civil War anthems intercut with the
entire Gettysburg address, followed by cowboy songs – that probably has more
cheesy, US nationalism than Australian audiences can appreciate.
performance is a sublime master class in acting, and his merging with Gunn’s
accomplished classical voice makes a quirky and compelling evening.