The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings






Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
Writing for Us

A CurtainUp New Jersey Review
The Fabulous Lipitones

Your country is not what I believed it was. Your Lady Liberty says "Give me your huddled masses." But then you want to give us back. This American dream is just that. — Bob
Fabulous Lipitones
L - R: Rohan Kymal, Wally Dunn, Jim Walton, Donald Corren (Photo credit: T.Charles Erickson)

Crass sitcom humor that has been unashamedly laced with overt racism and unapologetically graced with snippets of vocal harmony constitute this mostly flat yet also occasionally funny comedy with songs. In this collaboration of John Markus and Mark St. Germain three members of a barber shop quartet suddenly find themselves without their fourth, a founder who died quite suddenly following a heart attack only a week before their scheduled appearance at a national contest to be held in Reno, Nevada. His funeral service opens the play. It provides a quite funny opportunity for the three remaining members of the group to sing "After You've Gone."

These three friendly, middle-aged white guys do find a replacement. The trouble is that he's a dark-skinned, turban-wearing Sikh who is not only a few generations younger but may also be an illegal alien. It isn't the worst idea for a situation comedy, but it's also one that unfortunately cannot be sustained for two hours plus.

Thankfully, director Michael Mastro is in close harmony with his four actors who have a gift for garrulous back and forth banter. It helps that they also have good ears for their concerted musical offerings and do their best to provide some dimension to their one-dimensional characters.

The plot's main aim is to show how quickly the three old-timers with their traditional but tired repertoire become open and receptive to the refreshingly out-going personality of the new recruit, a very charming and personable Baba Mati Singh (Rohan Kymal.) This is not an easy task as Baba, who is called Bob, is suspected, not without some reason, of being a terrorist ("I don't negotiate with terrorists") by the group's resident bully and bigot Phil Rizzardi (Donald Corren) who notices the ceremonial dagger that Bob carries around his waist.

For a while, Phil, an out-of-shape owner of a gym and health spa, insists that he would prefer a career as a Tom Jones-type attraction at the local Holiday Inn. He seems willing to let the group dissolve their long-time musical association and with it their dedication to competitive barbershop singing, rather than accept this amiable and eager immigrant into the fold. The Fabulous Lipitones have kept the name given to them by their now deceased member Andy Lipinsky despite its resemblance to the popular medicine for cholesterol.

The men do eventually come around and see how the talented Bob will bring a new vitality and unique style to their program. Working with him to get rid of his "vibrato" is one of the play's more comical moments as is Bob's horrified response to the lyrics of such oldies as "Bird in a Gilded Cage," "I Want a Girl (Just Like the Girl that Married Dear Old Dad)" and "Bill Grogran's Goat" which he calls "The barbershop Apocalypse."

The only thing likely to have the audience wondering is how this hardly "fabulous" quartet got as far as it has in competitions. Bob, the play's most interesting character is well prepared to off-set the slurs hurled by Phil, whose ignorance with regard to foreigners and their cultural differences is the play's most compelling, if also its most abrasive, aspect. A digressive part of the plot also involves a possible raid by immigration authorities. The jokes aside, many of them groaners, I could feel the audience becoming less and less receptive and/or tolerant to Phil and the type he shamefully represents in our society.

Standing up to fitness phony Phil after thirty years of being bullied suddenly feels good to Wally Smith (Wally Dunn), a pudgy pharmacist who is looking for a "pharmacette" through an on-line dating service and Howard (Jim Walton), an accountant with a bed-ridden wife (unseen) whose finished basement (nicely furnished with the contestants' memorabilia by set designer R. Michael Miller) serves as the primary setting for the play that takes place in the present in London, Ohio.

A standout performance and fine singing by Kymal, who is making his George Street Playhouse debut, goes a long way in keeping this play diverting. Broadway veteran Walton is excellent as Howard whose determination to keep the group together is rewarded as is the support he gets from the also excellent Dunn. Corren, in another George Street Playhouse debut, has to work the hardest to earn our affection as the abrasive Phil. He almost pulls it off by the time we get to the Lipitones Competition Finale, that features a "Sailor's Hornpipe" by St. Germain. The big question: Will they pull off the win by beating the favorite The Sons of Pitches?"

St. Germain and Marcus have previously worked together on The Cosby Show. Their dialogue shows Marcus' flair for wacky quips, wise cracks and flippant repartee amidst endless bickering. There is otherwise no evidence of the dramatic sensibility that marked such fine plays by St. Germain as Freud's Last Session , Camping with Henry and Tom and Becoming Dr. Ruth

The Fabulous Lipitones by John Marcus and Mark St. Germain
Directed by Michael Mastro

Cast: Donald Corren (Phil Rizzardi), Jim Walton (Howard Dunphy), Wally Dunn (Wally Smith), Rohan Kymal (Baba Mati Singh)
Original Songs by Composer Randy Courts and Lyricist Mark St.Germain
Set Design: R. Michael Miller
Lighting Design: Christopher J. Bailey
Costume Design: Esther Arroyo
Sound Design: Scott Killian
Production Stage Manager: Kristin Pfeifer
Music Direction and Vocal Arrangements: Steve Delehanty
Additional Music Direction: Steven Freeman
Choreography: Michael Lichtefeld
Running Time: 2 hours 15 minutes including intermission
George Street Playhouse, 9 Livingston Avenue
New Brunswick, NJ.
(732) 246-7717
Tickets: $25.00 to $68.00
From 11/18/14 Opened 11/21/14 Ends 12/14/14
Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 11/21/14
Subscribe to our FREE email updates with a note from editor Elyse Sommer about additions to the website -- with main page hot links to the latest features posted at our numerous locations. To subscribe, E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message -- if you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.

For a feed to reviews and features as they are posted add to your reader
Curtainup at Facebook . . . Curtainup at Twitter

Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of The Fabulous Lipitones
  • I disagree with the review of The Fabulous Lipitones
  • The review made me eager to see The Fabulous Lipitones
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

>Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email and state if you'd like your comments published in our letters section. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

You can also contact us at Curtainup at Facebook or Curtainup at Twitter
The New Similes Dictionary
New Similes Dictionary

Book Of Mormon MP4 Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show

Slings & Arrows  cover of  new Blu-Ray cover
Slings & Arrows-the complete set

You don't have to be a Shakespeare aficionado to love all 21 episodes of this hilarious and moving Canadian TV series about a fictional Shakespeare Company


©Copyright 2014, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from