It’s not on Broadway (yet) but momentum for The Fabulous Lipitones musical keeps building
Barbershop is not back on Broadway—at least not yet. But it had a month-long run in a major professional theater on the other side of the Hudson River—the sixth run so far of The Fabulous Lipitones, a musical comedy centered around a fictional barbershop quartet. Society great Steve Delehanty advised on barbershop culture for the show’s debut run; by show two, he was Musical Director, providing expert arranging and coaching.
Premise: The Lipitones are an Ohio-based barbershop quartet that lost their lead to a fatal heart attack. (But, he holds his final high B-flat until the end of the song, winning the regionals.) They fall in love with the voice of “Bob” over the phone. But when he shows up for the audition, he’s not the person they’d imagined. The show features a lot of rapid-fire humor as the quartet deals with the overt racism of one of its members, plus some proudly convoluted plot twists.
The show’s sixth run took place at the 375-seat George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J., from Nov. 18 to Dec. 14. It received wide-spread, mostly positive reviews from area media including The New York Times. Runs in Atlanta, Seattle and Los Angeles have either run or been planned. Written by The Cosby Show head writer John Markus and acclaimed playright Mark St. Germain, they’re hoping the show builds in popularity and eventually books a New York City run as well.
Markus told CentralJersey.com, “Barbershop singing is the like the high-wire act at the circus. There can be no mistakes. If one guy goes down, he’ll take the other guys down with him. The singers have to have perfect intonation, meaning they have to hit the notes on the money.
“Secondly,” Markus continued, “they are not allowed to hide behind the vibrato … We have cast in some of these productions, very experienced Broadway actors who have been completely overwhelmed … The craft of it has to be precise, and you have to listen to the people you’re singing with on that stage. It’s a thing of beauty when it is done very well, and this cast is singing beautifully already, prior to previews.”
In addition to the show’s 10 public domain numbers, Randy Court and Mark St. Germain collaborated on two original numbers. Society quartets, including including 2014 International Seniors Champopm Faces 4 Radio, performed on afterglows associated with the New Jersey production. The cast included YouTube sensation Rohan Kymal and Broadway veterans Donald Corren, Wally Dunn, and Jim Walton.