Accompanied by just piano and bass, and interrupted by several minutes of unwavering, heartfelt applause, Mandy Patinkin and Patti Lupone, legends of the Broadway stage, film, television and many recordings, launch into the first of several Stephen Sondheim songs featured in this concert: the pounding patter song, "Another Hundred People," from "Company." From this impressive opening number the show melds into several montages from classic musicals creating, in the way the songs are arranged, a musical dialogue between two dynamic performers who have shared a special supportive relationship ever since they first shared the stage in the Tony Award-winning "Evita."
LuPone and Patinkin become a mature version of themselves as Nellie Forbush and Emile de Becque from "South Pacific." As such they deliver an enchanting "Cockeyed Optimist," "Twin Soliloquies" and "Some Enchanted Evening." Lines from Oscar Hammerstein and Joshua Logan's book complement the music by Richard Rodgers. In the second half of the concert, during a longer and even more moving re-creation, they perform an abbreviated version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's beautiful "Carousel." Together they are tragic lovers Julie Jordan and Billy Bigelow, delivering some of the play's touching dialogue as well as the lovely "If I Loved You," "What's the Use of Wond'rin" and "You'll Never Walk Alone." Audiences expect (but will be somewhat disappointed not to hear) music from this duo's work in "Evita." However their portrayal from these two other musical classics, enacted and sung with heart and simplicity, is both as unexpected as it is enchanting.
The evening continues to delight with two more Sondheim numbers. Ms. LuPone recreates her recent Tony-winning performance as "Gypsy"'s Mama Rose, singing "Everything's Coming Up Roses." Not to be outdone, Mr. Patinkin performs, as Buddy from "Follies," the patter song "The God-Why-Don't-You-Love-Me Blues." Both numbers are emotional, gut-wrenching presentations that all but stop the show. But more surprises are in store, including a montage from Sondheim's "Merrily We Roll Along," forgotten gems from "Showboat," "Anyone Can Whistle," "Into the Woods" and "Flora, the Red Menace," and some inventive choreography by Ann Reinking, including one delightful number performed in rolling chairs.
Lupone and Patinkin offer none of the obligatory encores provided by most performers, nor are any stories or anecdotes shared about their personal lives, so the evening speeds by on the wings of a song. In true theatrical form, these two artists leave the audience standing, applauding and wanting more.
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