ACCLAIMED actor Mandy Patinkin’s film career includes playing Barbra Streisand’s love interest in the 1983 movie Yentl, while his stage success boasts winning a Tony Award for the Broadway production of Evita in 1980 and television saw him winning an Emmy for Chicago Hope in 1995 and praise for his current starring role in the TV series Homeland as CIA chief Saul Berenson.
Yet the American star says his acting will never replace his love of live performance.
“I enjoy performing live in concert more than anything else I do,” Patinkin told The AJN by phone from his home in New York.
For the past few years Patinkin’s work has focused on Homeland, the spy thriller series which was based on the Israeli drama, Prisoners of War, and has enjoyed worldwide success since premiering in 2011.
With an extended break before filming starts on the eighth season of Homeland due to actress Claire Danes taking time off for the birth of her son in New York, Patinkin has taken the opportunity to perform in a series of concerts in the US and Australia.
Mandy Patinkin in Concert premiered in New York in October with 10 concerts, followed by San Francisco and Hawaii before touring Australia in November with performances in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
“The Homeland hours were so long and so intense over more than six months, but with the extended break on filming Homeland I have this window to put my music together and share with everyone in concert,” said Patinkin, who last performed in concert in Australia in 2013 with opera singer Nathan Gunn.
“I was missing the music so I went back into the studio to do some more songs. I told my producer that I wanted to try some new material instead of the ones that I have been doing for 30 years, so he sent me 350 songs.
“I listened to them all and chose 28 songs. We recorded 10 songs in January this year and my record company decided to release these songs like a diary.
“Fans could downloaded them online through Spotify, YouTube and iTunes, so we did that, followed by another 14 songs in April-May and then started on the third release.”
Patinkin then had the idea of marrying the new songs with the old favourites in a concert.
“My old concerts were mainly show tunes and even included some Yiddish songs,” said Patinkin, who was born into a family of Conservative Jews in Chicago.
“I’m very excited about the pairing of old and new songs in my concerts.”
Asked about performing Yiddish songs during his Australian tour, Patinkin was noncommittal.
“At the moment I have not put a Yiddish song in the running order as I have so many new songs that I want to perform, but I am known to change my mind while I am on stage, so that’s part of the reason I don’t want to commit to anything now.”
However, Patinkin promises to perform Buckingham, a song that he wrote when he was 25 about meeting his wife in 1978 and taking her to Chicago.
“I wrote several songs when I was in my 20s and recently pulled them out of the drawer.”
American pianist Adam Ben David will accompany Patinkin in the concerts. They have worked together on his music for several years.
The producers of Homeland have announced that the next season of the hit series – season eight – will be the show’s final.
“We begin filming in January and will wrap shooting in June or July and that will be the end of Homeland,” said Patinkin.
Asked how he felt about the series coming to an end, he noted: “We have had an incredible run with the series – I think it is an organic and appropriate time for it to end. It has been wonderful for all of us on so many levels.”
Patinkin credits the success of Homeland with giving him a global platform to raise awareness of a variety of humanitarian issues that are close to his heart.
“Every year as soon as we finish filming Homeland I am on the next plane to a place in the world where there is a rescue crisis and I meet these extraordinarily vulnerable people who are so inspirational,” he said.
“I talk to them and record their stories and I go around the world sharing their stories, letting people know that attention must be paid to them and that they need to be taken care of. I get to be their voice and that’s a privilege that I never imagined having and is due to Homeland.”
Patinkin’s projects include working with the International Rescue Committee tackling refugee crises, Doctors Without Borders and Israel’s Arava Institute, where he has been a board member for many years.
“The Arava Institute does extraordinary work cleaning up the environment,” he said.
Patinkin lives in New York with his wife, actress and writer Kathryn Grody.
Mandy Patinkin in Concert is at Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne on November 11, the Sydney Opera House’s Concert Hall on November 14 and at QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane on November 17.