John Epperson is back as Lypsinka, his high glamour alter ego that has been playing the boards in various incarnations for more than two decades. Lypsinka! The Trilogy showcases three productions in repertory: Lypsinka! The Boxed Set, The Passion of the Crawford, and John Epperson: Show Trash.
I had a chance to catch the classic, Lypsinka! The Boxed Set, which features some of Epperson’s most iconic work. If you’ve been living under a rock since the ‘90s, Epperson, along with engineer Alex Noyes, captures songs and snippets from some of our favorite leading ladies of the silver screen and beyond. It’s miraculous to imagine how the duo spliced it all together, weaving a fantasia of fabulousness that honors the era and also gives it a jovial poke.
Aided by a ‘50s-inspired variety show set by Jim Boutin and razor sharp lighting and follow spots designed by Mark Simpson with Jeremy Owens, Epperson fluidly moves through songs and patter from recognizable voices such as Ethel Merman, Kay Stevens, Judy Garland, Phyllis Diller and more. Then there are quirkier shout-outs such as Canadian singer Gisele MacKenzie (known for her appearances on the television show, Your Hit Parade), Aussie Judith Anderson (Tony Award winner in 1948 for her role in Medea), and monologist Ruth Draper.
Epperson’s knowledge of the mid 20th century cannon is unstoppable, as is his theatrical interpretation, which juxtaposes classic production numbers with a tormented inner monologue and high-stake physicality. If he wasn’t wearing a dress, you might see a resemblance to the hijinks of entertainers such as Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, though as Lypsinka, he’s got a far better set of legs.
The trilogy includes Epperson as himself in Show Trash, where the audience gets exclusive dish on his years from Mississippi to Manhattan and beyond. But it is the bigger-than-life Lypsinka that should beckon you to the East Village for a performance artist that never seems to go out of style.
Lypsinka: The Trilogy
The Connelly Theater
220 East 4th Street
Schedule varies through January 3, 2015