Wednesday 26 Mar 2008

An Intimate Podcast with Mandy Patinkin

Join me as my podcast ShowBiz Chicago joins forces with beginning on March 27, 2008. From his Tony winning portrayal of Che in the original Broadway cast of Evita to his Emmy winning performance in Chicago Hope to iconic movie roles
including The Princess Bride, to his countless recordings, there are very few stars as talented as Mr. Mandy Patinkin who will be in concert at the Chicago Theatre with his long time pianist Paul Ford on March 29, 2008.

Most people know of Mr. Patinkin for his soaring tenor voice and powerful acting roles. However, he is above all a humanitarian for the arts.

In looking forward to seeing and hearing what new material included in his upcoming concert, Mandy and I discuss the some incredible up and coming talent and the challenges they face in trying to get their voices heard in a time when arts funding is being slashed at an alarming rate.

We also touch on some of the many highlights of his career including a great story regarding James Spader and Joel Grey while they were filming The Music Of Chance.

Tickets can be purchased for Mandy Patinkin In Concert by visiting or The Chicago Theatre is located at 175 N. State St., Chicago, Illinois (312) 902-1500.

Mandy Patinkin in Concert with Paul Ford on Piano (Press Release)
Whichever role you know him for, Mandy’s favorite is reaching out to live audiences with the power and the passion of popular song. He belongs to the special breed of singer who doesn’t merely dramatize songs, but incorporates them into his very being. And the result, Mandy Patinkin In Concert, is nothing short of electrifying. His interpretations of popular standards, superbly accompanied by Paul Ford at the piano, come straight from the heart, mesmerizing audiences from coast to coast. From Rodgers and Hammerstein to Stephen Sondheim, Harry Chapin, and back to Irving Berlin and Cole Porter.
“Mandy Patinkin is in the business of showstopping,” raves The New Yorker. “He is a musical force of nature!”
Paul Ford was the original pianist for the Broadway productions of Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Passion, Assassins and most recently the revival of Pacific Overtures and the Tony award winning revival of Assassins. His other Broadway credits include: Curtains, 110 in the Shade (revival), Tom Sawyer, High Society, The Rink, Rags, A Day in Hollywood / A Night in the Ukraine, The Secret Garden and Falsettos. Mr. Ford was the pianist for the acclaimed Follies concert at Lincoln Center, the Carnegie Hall concert performances of A Sondheim Tribute, Anyone Can Whistle, and A Little Night Music with the Philadelphia Symphony, Gypsy with Patti LuPone and the Chicago Symphony, and episodes of PBS’ ‘My Favorite Broadway,’ all under the baton of Paul Gemignani. He accompanied Mr. Patinkin in Mandy Patinkin: Dress Casual at the Public Theatre and on Broadway in Mamaloshen and Celebrating Sondheim, and continues to work with him on all of his recordings and national/international tours.
Monday 17 Mar 2008

A Pot-O-Gold Abounds ‘If Your Irish…’

St. Patrick’s Day got off to a very early start on March 8th inside the Chicago Theatre where renowned conductor Frank McNamara led a full orchestra, chorus and featured solos by three of Ireland’s most popular artists. It was a celebration of the Irish culture and the importance that music and dance has had in shaping their history.

McNamara, who is probably best known to American audiences with a pension for PBS concerts for the incarnation of The Irish Tenors, has put together the first concert of this kind featuring almost all Irish talent including the orchestra. As the Irish performing arts are successfully crossing the ocean to the states, on the heels of the groundbreaking mega money maker known as Riverdance, and Celtic Women, American audiences have eagerly embraced both the fancy footwork and vocal talents of a country whose best known traditional songs have tended to be very maudlin (i.e. Danny Boy).

“If Your Irish…” gives the audience (decked in more shades of green then a boozy Kermit The Frog), a rich and textured experience and showcases the history of the country through the evolution of their music and dancing and featured two remarkable vocal soloists, soprano Deirdre Shannon and tenor Derek Moloney who each got their moments to shine throughout the evening with traditional ballads, lovely duets and full out choral numbers.

Some of the vocal highlights of the evening where Ms. Shannon’s soaring voice in ‘She Moved Through The Fair’ and ‘I Know My Love’, while Mr. Moloney (who hails from the town of Limerick) received a standing ovation for his rendition of ‘Danny Boy’ in which he was accompanied by Mr. McNamara on piano. Violinist Cora Smyth showed off her amazing technique in ‘The Irish Washerwomen’ and ‘Rakes of Mallow’

It was the closing number of the Josh Grobin hit ‘You Raise Me Up’ that left the audience in a ovational overload at which point I thought it was better to join them with equal enthusiasm which worked to my advantage as I was invited for an evening of fun with the couple seated next to me at a local Irish pub around the corner of the theatre.

So keep a lookout next year for a hopeful return engagement of this concert. Remember, wear your green and bring and extra liver for afterwards.

If Your Irish… played March 8th, 2008 at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., Chicago, Illinois. For more information on the music and the concert, please visit

Friday 7 Mar 2008

The Broadway In Chicago Excuse!

I must say that I am getting really annoyed with some of the smaller theatre companies using the excuse that the Broadway In Chicago juggernauts such as Wicked and Jersey Boys are the reason that certain smaller shows are not doing well or closing early because the audience is spending their entertainment budget on these two shows. That is ridiculous. This, in my opinion, is just a cop out.

In fact, the opposite is true. Wicked and Jersey Boys brings in more entertainment dollars to be spent in Chicago and not just on other shows, but restaurants, hotels and retail. Broadway In Chicago shows also ratchets up the quality of performances of the actors which audiences now expect from the other production companies.

Believe me, a couple that is spending at least $300 for an evening out for dinner and tickets Jersey Boys is not going to stop attending the Red Orchid Theatre because the tickets are $30.

Instead of using Broadway In Chicago shows as excuses for lack of attendence or even in fund raising campaigns, certain theatre companies just have to face the fact that some of the shows they produce are mediocre and the audience responds in kind. Also, there has to be a change in marketing and public relation tactics for the smaller shows. Placing a print ad in the Tribune or Sun Times and thinking your going to fill the house is Flinstoneion thinking. More out of the box promotional tactics are needed. Yes, I am sure it hurts the artistic mentality to admit that a poorly attended show a theatre company produces has internal problems, but it is time that some theatres take some responsibility for their shows not filling seats instead of laying the blame on Wicked and Jersey Boys. As Bill Cosby's new book proclaims...COME ON PEOPLE.
Friday 29 Feb 2008

Podcast with 'Rent' star Anthony Rapp

Hello CP Family:

Yesterday it was announced that the two original stars of the ground breaking musical 'Rent', Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal, are going to recreate their roles for a new National Tour so I thought it would be a good time to rebroadcast an this interview I conducted (along with Aimee Pine who was my original co-host and whom I miss terribly) when Anthony was in town to receive the Bailiwick's Trailblazer Award. Anthony and I became friends several years ago and he is one of the most talented people I have ever met.

Cut and paste this link to listen:
Thursday 28 Feb 2008

Podcast With Playwright Tony Fiorentino

Hello Chicago Pride Family:

As a companion piece to my review of 'My Dinner With Amy' that appears in my ShowBizQ column, please enjoy this podcast I conducted with the plays creator Tony Fiorentino. Tony is one of the most creative people I ever met and his wit will give you a glimpse into why 'My Dinner With Amy' is not to be missed!

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