Since his Tony award winning broadway debut in Evita in 1980, Mandy Patinkin has etched out an astonishing career in theatre, tv, film, solo concerts and as a recording artist. With his new offering, Diaries 2018, he adds another string to his bow, that of storyteller. And what a storyteller he is.
Diaries 2018 is a new direction for the multi faceted entertainer. With a hectic TV schedule, struggling to learn new songs and the retirement of his accompanist of 30 years, Paul Ford, he is introduced to a new pianist, Thomas Bartlett and together they embark on this incredible journey into song.
Of the 350 songs suggested by Bartlett, Mr Patinkin selects 28. “They were the nature of the words and the lyrics and the story. That’s what I listened to, not the music. I was listening for phrases that spoke to me about this moment in my life, this time in my life.” This is the very poignant essence of Diaries, that of moments, time, change and loss.
Diaries is beautifully crafted, not only in song selection but in the simplicity of its delivery. Hamer Hall is ‘transformed’ into what feels like an intimate space with simply a grand piano, chair and ghost light. But moreover, it is the openness of Mr Patinkin’s performance that invites you into that ‘intimate’ space, an invitation to sit back and hear the beauty, the melancholy and the meaning behind these song stories.
Wonderfully accompanied on piano by Adam Ben-David (living his bucket list dream of accompanying Mandy Patinkin) we are treated to an eclectic collection of song, all expertly delivered by both performer and pianist. Mr Patinkin pays homage to Randy Newman, Stephen Sondheim, Harry Chapin, Queen and Rufus Wainwright to name but a few, throughout the one act show.
Mr Patinkin’s uniquely astonishing voice doesn’t waver. The powerhouse vocal of ‘Trouble’ (The Music Man) opening the evening (assisted enthusiastically by the Hamer Hall crowd in rousing chorus moments) transitions from song to song flawlessly. With so many wonderful moments its difficult to summarise. His rendition of ‘Children and Art’ followed by ‘Sunday’ (Sunday in the Park with George), all vocal parts of ‘You Could Drive a Person Crazy’ (Company) and yes Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ are sensational but the beautiful melancholy of Rufus Wainwright’s ‘Going to a Town’ is a true highlight.
A long time social activist, Mr Patinkin delivers some of the most moving moments of the evening assisted by exquisite vocals and evocative videography of displaced peoples both historically and present day. Beautifully simple in delivery, but powerful in message.
There are moments in theatre when you leave and know you have experienced something very, very, special and Mandy Patinkin’s Diaries 2018 is one of those times. I would do it all again in a heartbeat!
Mandy Patinkin in Concert – Diaries 2018 heads to Sydney and Brisbane this week.
Venue: Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
Date: Wednesday 14 November
Venue: Concert Hall, QPAC
Date: Saturday 17 November
Bookings: qpac.com.au or phone 136 246
Photo credit: Darrell Hoemann