Meeting Mandy


Saturday night Mo and I went to see Mandy Patinkin in concert at Massey Hall. Most people know Patinkin from his film and television work, the credits of which include the iconic Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride ("You killed my father, etc...") and the popular series Chicago Hope and Dead Like Me. Those of us that are hard core musical theatre geeks know Patinkin as the original Che in Evita, George in Sunday in the Park with George and his concerts and recordings which feature everything from Yiddish tunes, Jolson, Harry Chapin and a healthy dose of Sondheim.

I first saw Mandy Patinkin in concert in Toronto about ten years ago with a fellow theatre geek friend (who was, as you would expect, as gay as a gay dollar bill). He suggested that we try and slip backstage after the show. Being the good Canadian girl that I am I was completely mortified by the idea. I paid my money to see him perform, I got what I paid for and I should leave the man alone. I couldn't, however, fight the sheer will of my friend and went with him to the stage door. Moments later someone poked their head out and said that Mandy would like us to come in. We were ushered into the green room where he gracefully greeted all of us, shook our hands and signed our programs. There had to be about 30 people all together. Someone in the crowd knew that it was his birthday the next day and we all sang "Happy Birthday" to him, in harmony, which was not surprising given that we were all hard core musical theatre geeks.

A few years later Mandy came back to do another concert date in Toronto. This time I went with Mo and we followed the same protocol, hanging at the stage door to see if we'd be invited in. We were, only this time I'd say there were about 75 of us (word had spread). Again he greeted everyone, telling us that if there was anything that we'd like to hear that he didn't do on stage he'd do it now. Someone asked for "Sonny Boy" and he obliged, right there, accappella. Talk about a crowd pleaser.

That night we also got to chat with Paul Ford, who has served as Mandy's pianist for almost twenty years. Paul Ford was the original pianist for the Broadway productions of Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George, which frankly, is enough for this theatre geek to want to touch the hem of his garment for all times. Never even mind the fact that he was also the original pianist for Into the Woods, Passion (also Off-Broadway), Assassins and the revival of Pacific Overtures. He was the pianist for the acclaimed Follies concert at Lincoln Center and the Carnegie Hall concert performances of A Sondheim Tribute and Anyone Can Whistle, all three of which I have memorized every word, note and nuance of. He's also got a lot of non-Sondheim credits, like The Secret Garden (with Patinkin) and Falsettos, but to be honest I always just sort of gloss over those in my mind...not because they're not important, it's just that they're not as important. They're not life changing. Go ahead, call me snob. I kind of like it anyway.

The concert on Saturday night was just piano and voice, which is just the way I like it. There is something so pure, so theatrical and yet so intimate when somebody sings with nothing to back them up except a piano. Lush strings and horn sections have their place to be sure, but for me, nothing beats piano and voice. We were treated to a bunch of the usual suspects from Patinkin's bag of tricks as well as some great personal stories (like how he first met Sondheim at a party of Hal Prince's and his father's adoration for Angela Landsbury). My personal highlight was seeing him do "Buddy's Blues" from Follies which he performed at the Lincoln Centre concert in the 80's. There is a great BBC documentary about that concert and I've seen it over and over again and have been consistently blown away by the energy and commitment Patinkin gave to that performance. It was a little slower, a little sadder than it was twenty odd years ago which only made it better somehow. He's now the right age to play this character for real. Revival???? Anyone listening??? Revival???

There was a private reception held in the downstairs bar for some folks that won tickets through a radio station thus ending the tradition of the post show green room chat with the hard core musical theatre geeks. About 30 of us hung at the stage door and had the pleasure of a quick hello with both Mandy and Paul Ford before they headed out. Ever the consummate pro and crowd pleaser he stopped and posed for pictures, signed autographs, gave hugs and shook hands. It was damp and chilly (really lousy stalking weather!) and it was so lovely of him to take the time to greet us, his hard core geek fans.

That's me, "Stage Door Tracey" with the wonderful Mandy Patinkin

Here I am, touching the hem of Paul Ford's garment. This is after I told him that I "really loved what he was doing with his left hand on Sorry/Grateful" and officially became the biggest geek in the world.

(The photos are courtesy Mo. I'll be posting the pics I took of her as well as some candids I grabbed on my Flickr account later today.)


  1. Anonymous7:18 PM

    Hey, umm, what I meant to say is that I really LOVE musical theater. I must have mis-typed...throughout the entire post... =)

  2. Anonymous9:54 PM

    In the far off days of my youth I would audition for community theatre roles singing oldies but goodies like "Mary's a Grand Old Name". Hey, it's from a show! A Cohan show! I figured nobody else would be doing the same song and at least the pianist would like me. My once and future husband caught me at one of these auditions and thought to himself "what a mook!" After we were wed Mandy appeared on The Boston Pops and did some of the oldies but goodies I favour. I turned to hubby saying "See, Mandy does those tunes". His response was "Dear, he's Mandy and you're not". Some truths are harder to take than others.

    Don't forget Miss Tracey, Mandy Patinkin is this generations who?

    - Black Tarantula

  3. Richard Kiley! Richard Kiley?

  4. Anonymous12:19 PM

    Let's have some love for Richard Kiley!


  5. I loved this post. I never knew how accomplished a musical theater performer Mandy P., was.

    Great pix of you, Tracey.

    Oh and "gay as a gay dollar bill" sounds like a great lyric to a funny song. LOL.


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