TORONTO — In his storied career on stage and screen, singer-actor Mandy Patinkin has embodied an eclectic cast of characters — from French painter Georges Seurat in Broadway musical “Sunday in the Park with George,” to Spanish swashbuckler Inigo Montoya in the 1987 film “The Princess Bride” and intelligence operative Saul Berenson on the TV series “Homeland.”
Next week, Toronto audiences will get a chance to see the veteran showman take on what he describes as his favourite role yet: the “mailman” delivering music penned by such songsmiths as Randy Newman and Montreal-raised Rufus Wainwright.
While he insists he’s merely the melodic messenger, Patinkin will also share a composition of his own in performances at the Ed Mirvish Theatre on Nov. 12 and 14. The 30-city concert tour is part of his “Diaries” series, which features songs from his new album “Children and Art.”
Patinkin spoke to The Canadian Press by phone last month from upstate New York about sharing a new side of himself onstage. The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
On what to expect from the show:
I think it’s a very new show from what I’ve been doing for the past 30-plus years. It is much more singer-songwriter oriented, as is reflected by the new album that was released.
There is a mixture of some show tunes … But the concert is far heavier on new material that I’ve never done before for audiences.
On his renewed interest in songwriting:
I’m not the world’s greatest songwriter, I’ll say that right up front. But I enjoy it and I have fun.
My son, he encouraged me. He said, “Dad, you’re a storyteller. Just write songs, tell stories. Don’t worry about how good they are.”
I started writing again, and I hadn’t written anything for 40 years. There’s one song on the album called “Raggedy Ann” that I wrote when I was about 18.
I wrote another one in about 1978 or ’79 when I met my wife Kathryn (Grody), and that song is called “Buckingham” … That’s in the concert.
On selecting songs to cover:
(Producer Thomas Bartlett) sent me 300 songs on Christmas Eve of 2018, and I listened to them Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
I put them in the save pile the minute I hear something that I connect with. What do I connect with? Just what anybody connects with. The infinite number of things that are unique to the fingerprint of who you are.
On performing in concert:
I love it more than anything I do, because it’s immediate. Because it is nothing without the people in the audience. They make the event.
The joy of it for me … is not being alone when I’m experiencing something, and I love being with other people who also have some affinity towards the stories that I’m simply the mailman for.
On Newfoundland-set musical “Come From Away”:
I flipped over it. I loved it. I thought it was one of the most stellar contributions to the theatre that anybody’s made in a long time.
On whether the final season of “Homeland” will reflect the current political climate:
The show has always played off of the world we’re living in. I think it’s best when it does it in a metaphorical form. I’m not a critic, nor am I a spoiler, so you’re going to have to wait.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 7, 2019