I have much to write about some of the happenings in the last few weeks… But that will wait until I post again later this week. (The delay will be good because I have yet to see Shrek and I will probably want to comment on the reviews/show.) Right now I am going to turn over the blog to my mother. This may be the only time this ever happens, so let me introduce her to those of you who do not know her. I have a Jewish mother (complete with baking skills) who lives in the suburbs and loves theater. An example of how this played itself out in my childhood: I was raised to believe Harvey Fierstein was really, really famous and amazing. You get the idea. In many ways she is my litmus test for how the non-tourist audience of her ilk will react to something. I take her to almost all Broadway shows; she knows virtually every press agent by face. And she loves to talk about the theater—my friends want her to start her own blog! Based on what I have said about her, you might imagine that she is a big Mandy Patinkin fan. So when I was invited to see one of his shows at the Public, I knew she would be the one who would have to comment on it. We saw Dress Casual on Saturday night (it is playing in rep. with two other Patinkin concerts: Mamaloshen and Celebrating Sondheim). I will say that, in my opinion, if you like Mandy, this is definitely for you, if you don’t, you will likely not be converted. But I will let her say the rest on this topic and, as a special bonus, she will also discuss Billy Elliot just because she wanted to do so. (My disclaimer is of course that the thoughts below are not my thoughts and I do not endorse them, I'm just giving them space.)
Jill David speaks:
“I must start by saying that I am a huge Mandy Patinkin fan so there is definitely some prejudice involved here. Going to the Public is always somewhat of an experience because their organization is somewhat sporadic. For example, the ushers seemed to have no idea of the seat locations so people were put in the wrong seats and then had to move climbing over many more people than necessary
To the show. Dress Casual was the one show out of the three that has no song list because, we are told in the playbill, it changes all the time.
Lights fade, stage black. Lights come back on to reveal the star in the middle of the stage in black t-shirt slacks. He immediately launches into song – “Children and Art” - from Sunday in the Park with George, with Mandy playing all the parts in different voices. It seems to go on forever. But his immense talent is evident. The show continues and the pace picks up, thank G-d. The songs are interspersed with amusing anecdotes from the past. He tells a story about Joseph Papp and launches into a Yiddish song, "Yossela,Yossela," that, as far as I am concerned, would be worth the price of admission. Mr. Patinkin is not only a singer with an unbelievable range, but a wonderful actor. He not only sings the songs but acts them out. The show lasts over 2 hours without an intermission but you will not get bored (if you make it through the first song). Take my advice and do not miss it.
A show you can and should miss is Billy Elliot. If this is the Broadway musical of the season, Broadway is in really big trouble (having nothing to do with the economy). The book, adapted from the hit movie Billy Elliot, has potential. The score is totally non-memorable. The first act is interminable and totally random. The second act is better, perhaps because it is so much shorter. I know that the critics gave this show good reviews. I don’t get it. Maybe they think that if something is a hit in England it has to be good. NOT.”