- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 22, 2002

Studio Theatre's "Lypsinka! The Boxed Set" is a dizzying, hilarious glimpse of what happens when a performer's polish cracks and reveals a bit of insanity underneath.

With a brassy auburn wig, sparkling ruby lips and eyelashes that would make Tammy Faye Bakker envious, John Epperson embodies Lypsinka with the glamour and graciousness of a bygone era then pokes holes in that image with unexpected outbursts of hysteria and raunch.

Mr. Epperson lip-syncs to old standards, mixing in dialogue from classic movies and some inspired physical comedy.

Lypsinka throws her arms and hands about in grand gestures of theatricality then looks on in horror as her limbs continue gesturing beyond her control.

In a send-up of "The 12 Days of Christmas," the gifts are alcohol. Lypsinka gets drunker and drunker as the song goes on slurring words and stumbling about the stage. The choreography would make Charlie Chaplin proud.

In one of the funniest sequences, three spotlights appear as a phone rings incessantly. Lypsinka steps from spotlight to spotlight to answer the phone, and we hear women crazed, scorned women in a roundelay of half-mad passion.

The play has a generous sprinkling of lines by Gloria Swanson in Billy Wilder's 1950 film "Sunset Boulevard," in which Norma Desmond pathetically clings to her delusions of stardom. There also are snippets from "Gypsy," the ultimate stage-mother/stage-daughter movie, with Natalie Wood as Gypsy Rose Lee breaking free of her mother's control.

Director Kevin Malony keeps the numbers fresh and fairly short. Waiting to see what Lypsinka will do next is like riding a roller coaster without being able to see beyond the next curve.

Jim Boutin's set is a lounge act confection, complete with glittery curtain and disco ball. The lighting, by Mark T. Simpson, is a splashy overdose of bright oranges and yellows, deep reds and violets, and playful hot pinks that heightens the show's delirium.

The self-proclaimed official celebrity of the new millennium has appeared in six other star vehicles: "I Could Go On Lip-Synching," "The Fabulous Lypsinka Show," "Lypsinka! Now It Can Be Lip-Synched," "Lypsinka! A Day in the Life," "Lypsinka Must Be Destroyed!" and "Lypsinka! As I Lay Lip-Synching."

At just more than an hour, the show may leave audiences hungry for a little more and imploring Mr. Epperson to indeed go on lip-syncing, but "Lypsinka! The Boxed Set" is a satisfying smorgasbord of showbiz glitz.



***

WHAT: "Lypsinka! The Boxed Set"

WHERE: Studio Theatre, 1333 P St. NW

WHEN: 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 7 and 10 p.m. Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays, through June 29

TICKETS: $23.50 to $43.50

PHONE: 202/332-3300

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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