10/24/2011 09:43 am ET | Updated Dec 24, 2011

Some Enchanted Evening: Patti and Mandy Hit New York

I don't generally like revues or concerts. I like stories. So it is with a little bit of surprise and, well, shame, that I tell you the musical entertainment I am currently recommending to the most people is actually a concert. An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin is its name. (What? You were thinking I would say Hugh Jackman Back on Broadway?)

Perhaps my excitement is bolstered by the fact that the press release insists the show is "much more than a concert." I think it's really that I always love Patti in concert. Mandy, I could live without, but his presence makes my mother very happy, which is nice. I've told a bunch of people to buy tickets because I know it's going to be an enjoyable night of theater songs. The duo is singing multiple songs from Merrily We Roll Along, Carousel and South Pacific. If you want Patti's version of "Don't Cry For My Argentina" fresh in your mind so you can properly compare/contrast against Elena Roger's take, you will hear it. I don't dare to dream that their versions of songs from 70, Girls, 70 will erase the horrible Encores! revival of that show from my mind, but will be nice to hear those tunes again.

And the thing about Patti and Mandy is they're safe bets. You know what you are getting; you know what the delivery is going to be like. With Patti and Mandy, if you like such things, you're set. (I am sure you would also be set with Hugh Jackman of course. Who wouldn't be?)

This is all not to say that I don't believe in taking risks in your theater-going. Of course I do. I see all kinds of things every season -- I enter the theater hoping to be wowed, taken aback in surprise and utter admiration. I am in fact happiest when I go into a show not knowing what to expect. The trouble is though, as ticket prices continue to rise, I feel badly recommending anything less than a sure thing. It used to be -- back in the day of frequent $50 discount preview mailings -- that I based recommendations on pre-preview buzz. After all, I hear about readings, workshops and rehearsals; I have some sort of feeling for productions before they begin. This gossip is not always an accurate predictor. It used to be enough; it's not anymore.

For me to recommend buying tickets to a show, I now either want to be 99.9% sure of its quality (An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin, Hugh Jackman Back on Broadway) or I need to see it beforehand. That may not help my family, friends and readers plan their fall theater schedule, but it's the way it has to be.