Mandy Patinkin on performing at Luhrs Center; calls concerts his ‘vacation’ from ‘Homeland”s intensity

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Mandy Patinkin on performing at Luhrs Center; calls concerts his ‘vacation’ from ‘Homeland”s intensity

Posted on: February 21st, 2014 by tommyj

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Mandy Patinkin is performing on Feb. 27 at the Luhrs Center in Shippensburg.

(Provided by the Luhrs Center.)

Mandy Patinkin doesn’t mind people throwing "Princess Bride" quotes his way.

"I get very, very flattered and excited and humbled," the actor said, adding that he never thought the film would become a classic. "It didn’t even do that well when it came out!"

It’s safe to say, however, that the crowd for his Luhrs Center performance on Feb. 27 will have more than one fan of the fairytale film, in which he played a Spanish swordsman out for vengeance for the death of his father.

But Patinkin’s acting turns in "Princess Bride" or his lead role on Showtime’s "Homeland," starring part in CBS’s "Criminal Minds" or upcoming role in the film "Wish I Was Here," won’t be the focus of his show.

It’ll be his voice. Patinkin packs some killer vocals and is a Broadway veteran, having won a Tony for his role of Che in "Evita" in 1979 and a nomination for his part as George Seurat in "Sunday in the Park with George" in 1984 and Burrs in "The Wild Party" in 2000.

For Patinkin, doing concerts is like returning home – a chance where he gets to be himself.

While we didn’t have a chance to reunite Patinkin with any of his former loves – a la "Live with Kelly and Michael" – we did manage to snag a few minutes of his time to talk about his upcoming show and the roles that have made him a household name.

If you could have a nickel for every time someone said to you "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die" how much money would you have?

"I think I could make a substantial dent in the national debt" [laughing]

I imagine that’s one of the things you hear the most from fans.

"It’s certainly in the top three. And I love it. You will never catch me complaining.

"I’m a performer. The only thing you wish as a performer is that people see your work. My God, to be in something that they show generation to generation? You can’t dream that up."

A lot of people think of you as a film and TV actor and don’t realize you’re also a Broadway star.

"It’s certainly my first love, singing. I began singing in the choir synagogue in the south side of Chicago… then, one day, they asked me to audition for a show called "Evita" and I did. And there I was in a musical and it got a lot of attention and then my life took a right turn."

I hear you have a pretty nifty toy train set.

"My father bought me a toy train set. Well, he bought it for himself but he got it for the excuse that he had gotten it for his 8-year-old son Mandy.

"I still have [the trains]. They work perfectly. Over the years I’ve broken them out to play with them. I’ve trained my family to be involved with them. For a good 20 years out on the road I built a train layout… it’s just been great fun for a lifetime."

Do you have time to break it out? You seem like such a busy man!

"I don’t play with it as much anymore because my focus is on other things. But whenever somebody comes over who has a little kid, my wife says ‘Can you get that train set?’"

It must be so neat watching the faces of children play with it.

"It is great fun. We’ve got it all childproof, so any kid can play with it. Nothing will crash… it’s readymade for kiddiedom."

You have a great Yiddish album. Will you be performing any of your Yiddish numbers in your Shippensburg set?

"I probably will. I like to throw Yiddish songs in every now and then. I’m trying to learn some new ones. I’ll probably throw out a song here and there.

"I’m going to be spending some of these months doing concerts working on some of the songs I’ve never recorded – ones that I love doing in concert and I want to put on CD."

Is there a certain Yiddish song you’re looking forward to performing in particular?

"I often like ‘Ten Kopeks.’ ‘The Hokey Pokey”s in there in Yiddish. It’s about getting married. I like to tell a story of my wife and I meeting each other and getting married with that song. We re-create Mandy’s wedding!"

Re-creating a Mandy Patinkin wedding?! What goes on in at a Mandy Patinkin concert?

"Sometimes I talk. I don’t have anything planned. I say whatever comes to mind.

"I put a song list together and then we change that song list during the sound check or during the show. I have 13 hours worth of material that I keep oiling up – you don’t use it, you lose it. So I’m trying to keep it alive.

"There are stories that I’ve made up over the years of stuff that happens in my life."

So you’re saying people can expect anything at a Mandy Patinkin show?

[laughing] "I have no idea what’s going to happen! The one thing I’m sure of is the minute I start a song – from the start of the song to the time the song’s over – at least I know what that is. Everything in between is up for grabs."

I know you’re also still filming a lot of projects. How do you manage that and doing concerts?

"Scheduling is not so hard. In the past few years we did the ‘Homeland’ filming from May to the first week or so of November. I try to keep the concerts to a minimum in that time. But I try to do some, because ‘Homeland’ is so intense that the concerts are really my vacation from that intensity. They’re my vitamins too, they really bring me back to me.

"And I miss them, those words, that music and the audience. That centers me and brings me home."

I would need a vacation from the land of "Homeland" – it’s so intense! But wasn’t that one of the reasons you left ‘Criminal Minds’ – it just wasn’t a world you wanted to immense yourself in?

"The intensity I love. ‘Criminal Minds’ just wasn’t the right work for me, as opposed to ‘Homeland’ and my concerts – all of which fit me like a glove. That’s including this movie, Zach Braff’s new movie "I Wish I Was Here." I have the good privilege of being his father. All of these things I love dearly."

Being his ‘father’ must be great. He’s so funny.

"He’s a beautiful fellow. My God, he’s a gifted young man."

I put out on Facebook I was interviewing you. One of our readers wants to know what your favorite Sondheim song is.

"I would say my favorite Sondheim song is all of them. And if you forced me to choose, ‘Anyone Can Whistle’ because the words! I love them! ‘It’s all so simple. Relax, let go, let fly. So someone tell me why can’t I?’

"It’s just gorgeous. It’s basically: ‘teach me to be free. Help me be free.’

"It’s actually about learning to let go, learning to be free. Anyone can whistle, ‘whistle for me.’ It’s a prayer for the freedom to learn to let go and be in the moment. To stop judging yourself, stop being in your own way."

Do you have a role that you think has changed you the most?

"The character of husband and father in real life. My wife has taught me the most. Second after her are our two sons Isaac and Gideon. Luckily they have a good material to work with because I know so little. So they have so much to teach me. And it’s ongoing forever."

DETAILS: Mandy Patinkin: Dress Casual with Paul Ford on Piano, 8 p.m. Feb. 27 at H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center at Shippensburg University, 1871 Old Main Drive, Shippensburg. Cost: $39, $49, $55, $59.; 717-477-7469. 

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