(Sarasota, FL) — The Summer Mainstage season kicks off at FST with the serenades of a not so traditional Barbershop quartet. Written by John Markus and Mark St. Germain, The Fabulous Lipitones, delivers the story of a broken barbershop quartet seeking their fourth member. The perfect harmony they desire is quickly thrown off key when they see “Bob,” for the first time. The Fabulous Lipitones opens in the Gompertz Theatre on June 3. This culture clash comedy plays through June 19. Subscriptions for all three Summer Mainstage shows can be purchased for as little as $39 online at FloridaStudioTheatre.org, by phone at (941) 366-9000, or by visiting the Box Office.
A high note leaves a barbershop quartet without their fourth member just before the national competition. When the voice of “Bob” is heard through the phone the Lipitones are all ears. But when they meet him in person, he’s not quite what they expected. A comedy of misunderstanding, stereotypes, and the path to perfect harmony.
Critics are raving. The New York Times says this “Song-stuffed comedy” is like, “Bollywood goes Barbershop.” Broadway World says “It’s a story that will resonate.” NJ Stage agrees telling audiences, “You come for the music and leave with the message.”
Taking the reins of FST’s production and is Co-writer and Director, John Markus. Having worked in television for over 30 years, Markus is most known for his work as head-writer of The Cosby Show, and Creator of the hit network show, BBQ Pitmasters. Markus speaks to the benefit of directing his own original work stating, “The privilege to direct your own material gives you the chance to guide your script as it travels down the pipeline, through rewrites and rehearsals, all the way to your opening night. You collaborate with actors to shape the characters into authentic, believable, shepherds of your story. You take the greatest risks, knowing you can regroup and fix what doesn’t connect to audiences.”
Returning to the role of “Bob” is FST newcomer, Levin Valayil. “I have played Bob before and I am so excited to become this character again,” said Valayil. “I love playing him because I get a glimpse of what my parents went through when they moved to America, away from all they knew in India. It is a huge risk to come to a place where you may be rejected over and over again, but you take the risk anyway because this is the promised land. Bob is just beginning his journey in America and I enjoy making him a strong, resilient, and savvy character. He has a lot of dignity and pride in who he is. I think we would all like to have that within ourselves. I know I do.”
Joining Valayil on stage are returning company members, D.C. Anderson and Scott Wakefield. Audiences may recognize Anderson from his recent role in FST’s production of Hairspray. Wakefield last made an FST appearance back in 1995 in Woody Guthrie’s American Song. Rounding out the cast is newcomer, Joel Blum. Blum’s previous credits include Show Boat, The Music Man, and 42nd Street.
Markus concludes stating, “This is my fourth time directing The Fabulous Lipitones. I’ve become so connected to this play – the story and these characters that I co-authored – that here at FST, I feel we will be reaching the pinnacle of the comedy and humanity in the story of these four characters. And, hopefully, through the laughter in the play, the hearts of the audience will open enough to hear our subtle message about tolerance and harmony.”
Filled with heart, and harmony, The Fabulous Lipitones opens on June 3, 2016 in the Gompertz Theatre. Subscriptions for all three Summer Mainstage shows can be purchased for as little as $39, online at FloridaStudioTheatre.org, by phone at (941) 366-9000 or by visiting the Box Office.
About Florida Studio Theatre
Known as Sarasota’s Contemporary Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre was founded in 1973 by Artist Jon Spelman. Starting out as a small touring company, FST traveled to places such as migrant camps and prisons. The company then acquired the former Woman’s Club building, becoming the first permanent venue. Shortly after Producing Artistic Director, Richard Hopkins arrived, the building was purchased and renamed The Keating Theatre. In the years that followed, Florida Studio Theatre established itself as a major force in American theatre, presenting contemporary theatre in its five venues: the Keating Theatre, the Gompertz Theatre, the Parisian style Goldstein Cabaret, the John C. Court Cabaret, and Bowne’s Lab Theatre.
Even with its growth, Florida Studio Theatre remains firmly committed to making the arts accessible and affordable to a broad-based audience. FST develops theatre that speaks to our living, evolving, and dynamically changing world. As FST grows and expands, it continues to provide audiences with challenging, contemporary drama and innovative programs.