By Mary Boyle
After 21 years, 88 productions, and 1,599 performances, In Tandem Theatre announced recently that this season will be their last fully-produced season at their unique venue, the Tenth Street Theatre. This is sad news in our local theatre world. Chris and Jane Flieller have filled a very specific, under-served role, providing quality, affordable, accessible theatre to Milwaukee audiences, as well as affordable theatre space and assistance to young companies and performers. Luckily for all of us, they're going out on a very high note with a show that has In Tandem written all over it: The Fabulous Lipitones.
The Fabulous Lipitones are a Barbershop Quartet from Ohio who lose their lead singer in the midst of the regional competition. While it may be sympathy that won them the regionals, the remaining three members, Phil (Steve Koehler), Howard (Nathan Marinan), and Wally (Rick Pendzich), now have a shot at winning the National Competition -- if they can find a new member in time! By sheer chance, they overhear a man singing beautifully in the background of a phone call. They don't hesitate to invite "Bob" (Ethan Brittingham) to audition, but when their potential new member arrives, he isn't at all what they were expecting.
Written by John Markus and Mark St. Germain, with music by Randy Courts, The Fabulous Lipitones is non-stop funny, while also containing some very serious social commentary about immigration, racism, and the power of music to bring people together. Koehler, Marinan (Scrooge In Rouge, Into the Woods), and Pendzich (The Glass Menagerie, Hairspray) are regulars on the In Tandem stage, and other Milwaukee stages, for good reason: these guys can act and sing really well. Ethan Brittingham makes a spectacular In Tandem debut, and has remarkable chemistry with his fellow actors; in fact, this may be one of the best cast shows I've seen this season.
Directed by Jane Flieller, with Musical Direction by David Bonofiglio and Choreography by Adam Estes, this production has that "theatre for regular people" feel that In Tandem has become known for, yet has more potential cultural impact than an award-winning, serious documentary could ever hope for precisely because of its accessibility. This type of production is exactly how theatre can change the world, and that is not an understatement; don't miss this show, or your chance to witness the epitome of what In Tandem Theatre stood for in Milwaukee theatre.
The Fabulous Lipitones runs through May 19th at the Tenth Street Theatre, located at 628 N. 10th Street in downtown Milwaukee. Tickets may be purchased by calling the theatre box office at (414) 271-1371 or visiting www.InTandemTheatre.org.
About In Tandem Theatre
In Tandem Theatre, a 501(c)3 non-profit was founded in 1998 with the commitment to produce exciting, innovative and professional live theatre. The company presents creative and eclectic programming that enlightens, inspires, provokes and entertains a diverse audience in an intimate atmosphere. Its name, In Tandem Theatre, reflects the connection between audience and actor, the audience and the written word – an intimate experience obtained when live audiences are engaged in strong storytelling.