East Texans are in for a one-night-only experience as Broadway luminaries Mandy Patinkin and Patti LuPone bring their unique two-person show to the University of Texas at Tyler's Cowan Center this evening.
Patinkin and Ms. LuPone first shared the stage in the original 1979 Broadway production of “Evita,” starring as Che and Eva, respectively. Both were nominated for Tony Awards for their performances (Ms. LuPone won), but never had the opportunity to work together again until a lie reunited them.
“They were birthing a new theater in Richardson and they told a white lie and called my people and said they had Patti, and they called Patti's people and said they had me for the opening. They didn't have either one of us,” Patinkin said. “I was ready to just blow it off, because I hate those evenings where each person does 20 minutes and then you sing 'Getting To Know You.' I was going to blow it off, but then I turned to my piano player and collaborator of over 24 years, Paul Ford, and said, 'Listen, do you think we can put together a show that tells a story?'”
The result was the show East Texans will have the opportunity to behold when Patinkin and Ms. LuPone arrive at The University of Texas at Tyler's Cowan Center tonight.
“We've been working on it ever since, making changes. We keep going all over the world and doing it. We just finished a run last Christmas on Broadway for three months. And now I'm working on a new show for the two of us,” Patinkin said.
The show is a mixture of material as the two performers take the audience on “a figurative journey between two souls, using familiar and unfamiliar material, both spoken and sung.”
“We have assembled these songs to tell the journey of two people. Some of them you know, with characters from the shows they represent. Other times the people represented from the show are just Patti and Mandy going through life at different stages in life,” Patinkin said.
“I'm going to be 60 years old in November, and yet I think that scene was written for Patti and myself this morning, because it is a scene about two people trying to be together and trying not to walk away from true love in the most beautiful and profound way that these geniuses wrote down.”
The performance, Patinkin said, is often uniquely reflective of the duo's friendship as well as their life experience.
“I think it's safe to say. I can only speak for myself, but I think Patti would agree, at this point in life, the material we choose we really want it to speak to our experience in life. What we've known, what we've tasted, what we hope for or what we hope the future to be like,” he said. “It is a piece filled with hope and optimism, for ourselves and for the world at large, written by people who are filled with hope and optimism.”
The duo has developed a unique working relationship and chemistry together, to the point where Patinkin sounds as though he is at his most trusting when on-stage with Ms. LuPone.
“Everything about her makes me want to be with her. She is, to me, one of the singular, most gifted human beings I have ever had the privilege to work with. She has a fragility and a trust and a simplicity and a danger that all takes place in the same split-second,” he said.
Patinkin is most widely known for his role as the inimitable, revenge-obsessed, swashbuckling Spaniard, Inigo Montoya, from Rob Reiner's cult classic “The Princess Bride.” He's worked steadily on film and television through the years, but his background in live theater is by far the most varied portion of his career. Live theater is truly his first love, Patinkin said.
“There's nothing like the live theater. In front of a movie camera, the audience isn't there. It's an editing and director's medium. So you certainly give everything you can for the camera, the crew and your fellow actor, but the temperature of the performance changes drastically with the temperature of that audience. The way they listen, the silence, a laugh, anything. Their energy in that room informs a performance as much as anything else,” he said. “If it's a Patti/Mandy show, it's Patti, Mandy and everyone else in that audience. It's not just two people on-stage. If there's 2,000 people in the house, it's a show with 2,002 people.”
For more information or for tickets, call the Cowan Center box office at 903-566-7424. or visit http://www.cowancenter.org.