By Ben Rimalower
31 Aug 2013
|photo by Kent Smith/SHOWTIME|
Mandy Patinkin as Marvin in Falsettos
Mandy Patinkin's replacement turn in Falsettos was something of a double switcheroo for me. First of all, I'm a huge Falsettos fan. In many ways, it's my favorite musical. As anyone who's seen my autobiographical solo play Patti Issues can attest, the story of a 1980s New York Jewish family split apart by the father coming out of the closet resonates very strongly for me! Even more than that, though, I find William Finn's eclectic, conversational, frenetic (and then suddenly, lyrical) songwriting style, particularly in Falsettos, thrilling and delightful. I'd already seen the original cast four times, plus once more with Maureen Moore as a fabulous replacement for Carolee Carmello in the role of Cordelia. With the news that Mandy Patinkin was replacing Michael Rupert as Marvin, I was very excited to go back a sixth time, being a lifelong fan of Patinkin from Evita and Sunday in the Park with George (two other favorites), not to mention "The Princess Bride" and "Yentl."
The first switch happened for me very early during Patinkin's performance in Falsettos. I found his personal mannerisms distracting. Maybe I had just listened one too many times to his albums, but I couldn't shake the idea that it was Mandy Patinkin up there. Just as I'd be getting drawn into the forward-moving flow, the driving train that is the sung-through (and somewhat hyper-active) Falsettos, there would be Mandy dragging me back down to earth. And then I realized, this is Marvin's story. The plot of the entire first act revolves around what a selfish and demanding narcissist he can be. It wasn't that Mandy Patinkin was distracting me from enjoying the other characters' delicious moments; it was the other characters who were distracting me from Marvin's breakdown. My epiphany came just in the nick of time for Patinkin to scale back and have the whole audience in tears at his moving apology in song, the first act closer "Father to Son." Continued...