After a long Diaspora, Mandy Patinkin is returning to Broadway. This is not a drill!
The actor, singer, philanthropist, and holder of the keys to my heart will briefly take on the (male) title role of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. The musical is a weird, rock-infused retelling of just a selection of War and Peace. Think, actors in grunge-y costumes, running through the audience, actors playing their own instruments. It will mostly be Patinkin’s job to stand there singing beautifully while the rest of the cast frolics around him, but the Tony Awards performance video speaks for itself.
Patinkin has not been on Broadway in five years, but if you don’t count shows that were more or less concerts, it’s been seventeen years. The Tony winner has been busy in that time sure, between off-Broadway, Homeland, political activism, and concerts galore (often in Yiddish!), but it’s been ages since he’s stepped onto the Great White Way.
While he’s a welcome choice for this role, he’s also a surprising one. The men who have played Pierre are diverse in both appearance and voice. The two prior Broadway actors, including Josh Groban (who was Tony nominated for his role), have both been beautiful young men wearing fatsuits and claiming that they’re old and undesirable (seriously, like half the lyrics are about Pierre’s corpulence). The artifice is a bit ridiculous, but so is the show on a whole. Regardless of whether or not he’ll be padded, Patinkin is similarly a bit too gorgeous for the role, but that’s the precedent.
(Don’t you dare say a word against Mandy if you disagree. He will always be beautiful and this is a hill I will die on.)
Is this musical particularly Jewish? No, since its about nineteenth century Russian aristocracy, but it is an undeniable fact that intellectual Jews love War and Peace. (There’s plenty of debate on whether or not Leo Tolstoy was an anti-Semite.) But it will be made more Jewish by Patinkin’s mere presence and dulcet tones, because that’s how Jewish and wonderful he is.
The downside: Mandy Patinkin will perform from only August 15 to September 3rd. Three weeks. That’s roughly 24 performances. So you had best buy your tickets quickly. And you may have to fight me for them.