Mandy Patinkin sounds delighted with the world and full of energy — despite the fact he’s been keeping up a pace that would frighten many. Last week, for instance, “I finished a concert in Chicago with Nathan Gunn and my son Gideon — singing with him is my favorite thing in the world. I did that on Wednesday in Chicago. Then I flew back to North Carolina to shoot ‘Homeland,'” he says, referring to Oct. 2-debuting Showtime drama in which he plays Claire Danes’ CIA boss and mentor. “We finished the seventh episode Thursday night, started the eighth one Friday.”
From there, he had a weekend commitment in Toronto “to do my Yiddish concert, which has about 30 minutes of pop at the end of it.” Then back to North Carolina series production. “We keep shooting ‘Homeland’ ’til November 10th, then I have about three days off before starting the Patti-Mandy concerts,” he says. He’ll be reuniting with his fellow vocal great and Evita star Patti LuPone for their highly-anticipated Nov. 15-Jan. 15 stand at Broadway’s Ethel Barrymore Theatre. After that, he and Patti will be taking their show on the road.
Chatting on the phone, he makes it clear he’s excited about the “Homeland” scripts that deal with an American soldier who is rescued after having been missing for nine years (Damian Lewis) — whom Danes’ character begins to suspect is under Al Queda influence. “You can’t wait to get hold of the next one to find out what is going to happen,” he says. He’s glad to return to Showtime, where he has a happy history including “Dead Like Me.” And Patinkin says the 12-episode cable season was an attraction for him as well.
“It’s far more friendly in terms of being able to do other things. I can continue my concert life, which is very important to me. I can keep my two worlds floating there without exhausting myself,” says the Tony and Emmy winner. “You book a year ahead of time in the concert world, which is why I’ve had so many to do while we’re in production — and they’ve been great about working around them all,” he says of his “Homeland” producers. Next year, however, he says he’ll schedule concerts around the series’ shooting schedule.
Patinkin tells us, “I’m in my car right now, and I’m on my way to the woods to take a hike. I hike and hour and a half a day. I have 10-12 hours of concert material to keep in the forefront of my mind, so I review it while I’m hiking. I vocalize out loud, sing the whole thing to the trees. It’s my favorite thing. If I can make it through the vocalizing while I’m hiking, I know I can do it onstage.”
Of course, he’s had to contend with the weather in Charlotte. Hurricane Irene snuffed plans he had to go to a family wedding, and there’ve been times he had to do his vocal work in a nearby gym. “But clearly I prefer being outside . It’s been more than 100 degrees out through most of July and August. At first it was really difficult, but then I really got into it. It’s so hot, you just have to give in. I’d go on these hikes and be drenched when I came back, like I just got out of a lake. Then I’d stretch, and shower and — I’ve never felt better. I just love it here.”