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Mandy Patinkin: 'Delivering The Mail' For America's Great Lyricists

Actor and singer Mandy Patinkin comes to Edmonds and Tacoma this week.

You might know Mandy Patinkin as CIA operative Saul Berenson on the Showtime television drama “Homeland.” Or maybe you know him as" target="_blank">Inigo Montoya from the film “The Princess Bride.” But Patinkin’s career began on stage. He won a Tony for the role of Che in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “Evita.” And he’s been a frequent presence on stage in the years since. 

Patinkin is performing two concerts in Western Washington, at the Edmonds Center for the Arts on June 22, and at Tacoma's Pantages Theater on June 24. He spoke to KPLU's Ed Ronco.

Interview Highlights

On Lyrics: “Lyrics are the food of my soul. I’m a storyteller, and I just happen to be telling these stories on musical notes, that’s all. … These songs are written by gifted geniuses, and the reason they end up being what people call classics is because they have simplicity to them that reflect the human condition in an infinite variety of ways.”

On His Stage Debut: “I was in Hebrew school; It was a Sunday morning play; I was probably 7 years old. We were playing a scene where all the kids were sitting reading their books, and the teacher was in front of them. I was playing one of the Nazis outside, and I was supposed to stamp my foot three times – and that was the signal for the teacher to say, ‘Oh my goodness! The Nazis are coming! Quick! Hide the books. Sit on your books to hide them.’ And I was so nervous I forgot to stamp my feet and I just walked in and said my first line: ‘Where are the books?’ They were all in their laps. I thought it was a wonderful mistake because it just showed how stupid the Nazis were.”

On Theater: “I love working in film and television, but you do it for the crew; You do it for a camera; It’s edited; It goes through a whole process and you’re not with the people when they’re watching it. When you’re in the theater doing a play or a concert, the audience is a character in the development and the progress of the evening. … It’s a whole world of difference.”

On Politics: “There are songs I sing where sometimes the lyrics have a certain political edge to them. And there are certain songs I tailor to make comments. There’s one in particular that is a comment on some of the economic concerns we all live with. I have promised myself for this particular season – these two months I’m doing these concerts right now – and I’ve promised my audience, that I’m not going to discuss politics. I need a break from it, and I feel my audience needs a break from it…. We have all had more than enough and we’re not even finished with the first act.”

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.