Lypsinka! The Boxed Set
Soundtrack Created by John Epperson, Directed by Kevin Malony
Presented by TWEED TheaterWorks in association with Gerald Herman and Joseph A. Berger
Off Broadway, Performance Revival
Runs through 1.2.15
Connelly Theater, 220 East 4th Street
by Shani R. Friedman on 11.10.14
Lypsinka in Lypsinka! The Boxed Set. Photo by Bill Coyle.
BOTTOM LINE: After nearly a decade away from the New York stage, John Epperson brings his legendary lip-synching alter ego back with three different productions for an 8 week run you won’t want to miss.
I have inexplicably never caught a Lypsinka performance. As one of the characters in the “woman’s pictures” John Epperson clearly loves would no doubt say, what a fool I’ve been. Happily, I learned Epperson was going to be treating audiences to a revival of The Boxed Set (as well as a revival of the Passion of the Crawford and the premiere of John Epperson: Show Trash) this Fall. I really didn’t have any idea of what I was in for, but whether you’re a newbie or have been following Epperson since he brought Lypsinka to life at the Pyramid Club more than 30 years ago, you will be dazzled by her highly unique stage presence.
The Boxed Set is a musical revue with Lypsinka, done up with boas, fans and sparkly red lipstick, blending together excerpts from a wildly colorful assortment of films and musical recordings. Admittedly, although I have seen my share of Douglas Sirkian-type melodramas, I probably only picked up a third of the references, with Sunset Boulevard, Chinatown, Gypsy Rose Lee and Bette Davis all getting memorable shout outs. One moment Lypsinka is channeling a breathy starlet and the next she is fully committed to an increasingly drunken and very funny faux-rendition of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” There is certainly sincerity and love behind the carefully chosen selections. But they are at the same time hilarious send-ups as Lypsinka spontaneously breaks into Norma Desmond’s infamous face framing scene from Sunset or as she dances with animated hand gestures, pausing as if surprised to discover what her hand is doing.
Her brilliance is best captured when she seamlessly strides between three spotlights to answer the phone to lip synch dialogue from a zany array of movies. Never again will I hear the line “What did you do?!”, done with about a half dozen over the top inflections without thinking of the show. I can’t do justice to how truly genius this interlude is, but it alone is worth the price of admission.
Lypsinka commands the stage under Kevin Malony’s direction, aided by Jim Boutin’s sets and Mark Simpson and Jeremy Owens on lights, all working adeptly with very little. The sound engineering by Alex Noyes and sound design by Matt Berman are skillfully executed. And what Goddess of Showbiz, as she’s been anointed, could be put together without costumes (Bryant Hoven), hair (Gerard Kelly) and jewelry (Robert Sorrell)?
Epperson’s appreciation for the grand dames of the last century is old school, with only a handful of performers still doing this kind of show. Seize your chance now to see the incredibly impressive technique, choreography and comedy that Lypsinka has mastered. Who knows when you’ll get lucky again?
(Lypsinka! The Boxed Set plays at the Connelly Theater, 220 East 4th Street through January 2, 2015. Check schedule for performances. Tickets start at $45 and are available by visiting lyp3.com or by calling 866-811-4111).