In the News

The composer, conductor, poet, pianist and critic may be the most promising operatic talent in a generation. But can he handle the spotlight?
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The singular talents of Mandy Patinkin and Taylor Mac — yes, you read that correctly — combine to delightful effect in “The Last Two People on Earth: An Apocalyptic Vaudeville,” the weird and weirdly transfixing entertainment having its premiere here at American Repertory Theater.
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The singular talents of Mandy Patinkin and Taylor Mac — yes, you read that correctly — combine to delightful effect in “The Last Two People on Earth: An Apocalyptic Vaudeville,” the weird and weirdly transfixing entertainment having its premiere here at American Repertory Theater.
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DOUBLE UP: Taylor Mac and Mandy Patinkin make a great comedic team in ‘The Last Two People on Earth.’
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Patinkin and Mac share a wonderful chemistry. They’re like chalk and cheese, their differences in demeanor and energy contrasting nicely and bringing out the best in one another. The program notes tell us that Patinkin and Mac came up with the show when they realized they liked a lot of the same music.
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One is a bouncy bald guy in a bowler hat, eager to please. The other is a scraggy bearded fellow hiding in a trunk, resigned to solitude. They are the last two people on Earth, and they meet on a scrap of land that has survived a flood of global warming proportions. Somehow, they need to connect, despite their differences in temperament and their inability to communicate through anything but song.
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When a flood of epic proportions wipes out all but two scraggly survivors, played by Mandy Patinkin and Taylor Mac, there is very little left for them to do but sing and dance. In fact, that's pretty much all they do as THE LAST TWO PEOPLE ON EARTH.
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As the REM song goes, “It’s the end of the world as we know it — and I feel fine.” But for the two mismatched characters in “The Last Two People on Earth: An Apocalyptic Vaudeville,” life isn’t so free and easy — at least not at first —  as they deal with their last-man-standing status with song, dance and schtick. Existential angst is here performed by appealing opposites Mandy Patinkin and downtown performance artist Taylor Mac. The odd coupling works well, each playing to his own strengths in this musical two-hander that starts off twee but ends up terrific. The show will please both artists’ camps and looks promising for future engagements, but whether it crosses over to the mainstream will depend on theatergoers’ attraction to high concept and low comedy.
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Patinkin and Mac play the two survivors of a flood of biblical (or global warming) proportions. Gaining each others’ trust through their common language — song and dance numbers — the pair run through a wild range: Rodgers and Hammerstein to R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine).”
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Composer. Poet. Conductor. There doesn’t seem to be much that Medfield’s Matthew Aucoin can’t do.
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