Do This: John Epperson, also known as Lypsinka, at Joe's Pub
I really didn't know what to expect when I sat down in a back booth at Joe’s Pub to see John Epperson in his show John Epperson: The Artist Principally Known as Lypsinka. I was actually expecting to see Lypsinka to be honest, and then I pulled out my phone to read the synopsis in my email to see that Lypsinka was staying at home.
Written and performed by Epperson, John Epperson: The Artist Principally Known as Lypsinka is a personal musical memoir following the performer's journey from a small town in Mississippi to New York City. It is filled with a playlist that includes some of Broadway's biggest hits as well as a selection of esoteric and well-loved tunes. Epperson's alter-ego and world-renowned character, Lypsinka, will remain at home during this show but there is a promise of a lip-synching treat in the show.
The show begins as a touching and candid walk down memory lane as Epperson retraces his roots and honors the women who have inspired him and his career. He begins in a flamboyant green blazer that he says, “Screams show biz.” He later takes it off to perform in just black slacks and a turtleneck, a look he seems much more at home in.
“Some of my friends say I live in the past and that I don’t listen to new music,” Epperson proclaims to the audience before going into a medley of classic “rap tunes” that pre-date Hamilton. Most of the music I didn’t know, so I was introduced to many new classic tunes primarily written by women during a time when most women were pressured to stay at home. Not write music.
Like the show’s bio promises, Epperson does give some lip synching treats, including a hilarious performance of the legendary Terry O'Mason’s song about “her cupcakes.” He later gets sentimental, touching upon international tragedies like Orlando and Paris, “Don’t let anything stop you from going to Paris.” He opens about his own personal mourning during the aftermath of these tragedies, saying the only way he could cope was lip syncing Barbra Streisand’s “What About Today” in his living room. Luckily, he shares this personal moment with us, too.
As I said before, a lot of the songs I was being introduced to for the first time, except the show’s finale. Epperson got back behind the keys of the piano and performed Stephen Sondheim’s classic ballad “Anyone Can Whistle.” I have heard this song performed dozens of times at campy cabarets or Broadway reviews, but this was by far the best rendition I have ever heard. Simple and stoic, the melody haunted the room as a backdrop lowered with Epperson’s caricature projected.
Intimate and personal, the night’s finale proved a true testament to the fact that Epperson can stand on his own out of lashes and heels.