An Important Voice: Mandy Patinkin

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The beard is back, after a few months away from the face of Mandy Patinkin, who now prepares for a new season of "Homeland," the enormously successful Showtime program that's mesmerized millions for a long while now. The New Yorker called him "a subtle actor," which minimizes the case. Mandy is a brilliant actor, credible down to the last word, mysterious, moving, and honest, and, as well, a remarkable singer, a theatrical figure, melancholy, and vigorously hilarious in much of his music.

His albums are novelistic, leaning as they sometimes do on the cerebral songs of Sondheim. Mandy is part of a Pulitzer Prize for his leading role in "Sunday In The Park With George." His credit list is far too long for this modest piece, but I've set out here to tell you, as the close friend that I am, that Mandy's greatest talent is invention.

Ideas flow from him, almost, it seems, every hour. He will spend months in some faraway spot if there's even a tiny theater that will accommodate an idea. He has, and will again, I'm sure, create, out of thin air, a magical work that perhaps only nine hundred people will see. Then, a year later, after reconsidering the project, he will tear it up and start again, and again, and find another theater to welcome him.

I champion this man, I love this man, a creative being with a torrential energy to transmit in his work what he knows to be true about the brisk eighty years or so that might be Mandy's (he's sixty now) or might be ours. Believe me: this is an important voice. Listen.