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REVIEW: The Fabulous Lipitones

July 30, 2014 6:00 am0 commentsViews: 416

Lipitones by Steve Desroches

What does it mean to be an American? The evolution of our still young culture changes, but sometimes not without resistance to the “new” or the “other” until the day comes when it becomes familiar. In the social comedy The Fabulous Lipitones the concept of who we are as a country, as told through the lens of the individual, is explored in this clever, sweet, and engaging play with music.

Howard, Wally, and Phil are all old high school buddies in small town Ohio who have been singing in a barbershop quartet for the past 30 years with dreams of finally winning the nationals! But their lead singer drops dead after hitting a particularly challenging B-flat. Just when they think it’s time to put away the pitch pipe along comes Bob, with a voice like an angel. However, it’s a rocky road to harmony, both literally and figuratively, as the midwestern trio struggles to understand their new friend’s different ways and vice versa. It’s an age old American story told in a fresh and funny way, tapping into the feeling of being an outsider that everyone’s had, as well as the difficulty of meeting a person with ways different than our own, and the quest for common ground.

Pardon the pun, but the casting in The Fabulous Lipitones is pitch perfect. D.C. Anderson as Howard presents a loveable Don Knotts-esque character, a bit jumpy and nervous, but a devoted and loyal friend and husband who, despite his apprehensions, looks to do the right thing. Wally Dunn portrays Wally, a pharmacist unlucky in love who still lives with his mother, but with an effervescent love of life who has not given up on finding true love and approaches life with an open heart and a bit of bravado. And then there’s Phil, played by Ron Orbach, a hulk of a guy with a bad temper and an Archie Bunker view of the world. He doesn’t like what he doesn’t understand, but when he finds himself pushed aside by a changing world he has the sensitivity to reflect allowing a change of heart and mind. Actor Rohan Kymal as Bob creates a tender and real character that’s meant to challenge the prejudices and ignorance of his new, tepid friends. Bob’s story, too, is classically American. As he lets go of aspects of his old life that don’t fit, he also struggles to stay true to his core beliefs in a land that doesn’t understand or share them.

While not a musical, The Fabulous Lipitones is peppered with the harmonies of barbershop quartet music. On one level it is enjoyable music and a good comedic device. On another level it represents tradition and both the corniness and authenticity that can be wrapped up in patriotic nostalgia. The production is a joy to watch both because it’s fun and lighthearted, but at the same time maintains a sophisticated sensitivity and speaks intelligently of perhaps the biggest social question of not just today, but our entire nation’s history.

The Fabulous Lipitones runs Wednesday through Monday at 8 p.m. at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater (WHAT), 2357 Route 6, through August 23. For tickets ($20-$45/ $12 for students) and information call 508.349.9428 or visit what.org.