Excuse me while I take a moment to gush. And brag.
It was slightly epic.
I don’t remember exactly the first time I was “introduced” to Mandy Patinkin. It was probably The Princess Bride. Most likely. However, I do remember the first time I was “impressed” by him. That was with Yentl. I was in my early teens and was going through a Barbra Streisand phase, watching every movie musical of hers that I could find. “Papa, Can You Hear Me” would haunt my dreams after seeing that film. Yet, even as I was caught up with Streisand’s performance, the young man playing opposite her managed to catch my eye. He had such a unique voice, and eyes that seemed to look into your soul.
As I grew in my theatre career, so did my appreciation for Mr. Patinkin. Of course, my appreciation came solely through soundtracks and film clips, but it was enough. And with resume as long as my arm, there was plenty to appreciate. To start with, there was his Tony Award winning Broadway debut as Che in Evita, or his roles in Sunday In The Park With George, The Secret Garden, The Wild Party and Celebrating Sondheim – just to name a few.
So, as you can imagine, when I heard that Mr. Patinkin was coming to Brigham Young University’s campus for their performing arts series, I jumped at the chance to see him live. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be in the same room as that voice.
In the days leading up to the show (which was Mandy Patinkin: Dress Casual), my companion and I were often asked what we were doing that Friday night. We both would get excited (perhaps somewhat embarrassingly so), and announce that we were going to see Mandy Patinkin! In concert! Can you even believe it?!
More often than not, that pronouncement was met with a blank stare.
Then the explanation would follow. You probably know him as, “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
“Oh wow, he’s amazing!” was usually the reply.
“Yup. And he’s also has a very distinguished theatre career.”
As this scene played over and over, I began to have a little war with myself. Part of me was saying, “Relax. Don’t be a theatre snob. Just because he’s a rock star in your world doesn’t mean he’s a rock star in everyone else’s world.” But a bigger part of me was disheartened. Was he really this underappreciated?
The night of the concert arrived. As I walked into the De Jong Concert Hall, I was overcome with one amazing detail.
It was packed.
Now, the De Jong can hold over 1,200 people. Granted, I was up in the balcony, so I couldn’t see every row, but as I looked around me, I couldn’t find an empty seat.
I was also impressed by the variety of the audience, which ranged from the older generation to students, and everyone in between. There was a charged feeling of anticipation in the air, and I swear that the girls sitting next to me (ranging from the 20’s to their 30’s) were even giddier than I was.
When the lights finally dimmed and Mr. Patinkin took the stage, the entire De Jong erupted. It was the stuff of legends. An ovation before a word was spoken or a line was sung. You could feel the adoration and veneration rolling off the audience in waves.
There was a legend among us. And the audience knew it.
And suddenly, my paradigm shifted. Sure, maybe there were a lot of people who hadn’t (yet) been introduced to the wonders of Mr. Patinkin’s voice. I’m sure there were even some first timers in the audience that night – people who had been dragged by parents, friends or significant others. And yet, though everyone in that room had been introduced to that voice at different times and through different methods, there was no denying that this Utah audience had a huge appreciation for Mr. Patinkin’s talent and career.
Which makes me wonder. Who are some of the other great performers who are adored in Utah? What voices and talents have inspired our audience members? And who would make you absolutely giddy if you got to see them live? I would love to hear who they are, and when/how you first heard them. So comment below.
As for Mr. Patinkin. With his powerhouse voice and mesmerizing performance, he showed exactly why I have loved him all these years. It is a night I will not soon forget. And to that night, and to him, I simply say: