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‘Life of the Party’ celebrates Andrew Lippa’s shows

When it comes to creators of musical theater, Andrew Lippa probably isn’t the first name to come to mind.

Still, local audiences may be familiar with his works like “The Addams Family,” “The Wild Party,” “The Big Fish,” “John and Jen,” “The Little Princess” and “The Man in the Ceiling.” The latter was a hit at TheatreWorks’ New Works Festival last year and will premiere in Sag Harbor, N.Y., next year. Lippa also wrote “I Am Harvey Milk,” an oratorio premiered and co-commissioned by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.

All of those works and more are sampled in a revue, “The Life of the Party,” being given its U.S. premiere by TheatreWorks.

Singing, dancing and playing piano, Lippa is part of the show’s top-notch cast.

The show opens with Lippa recalling an afternoon when he was 12 and an older boy on whom he had a crush invited him into his bedroom to listen to records. One of them was Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd.” From then on, Sondheim was his musical love and inspiration, Lippa says in his first song.

Thereafter, the audience is treated to excerpts from his shows performed by himself along with Damian Humbley, Sally Ann Triplett and Teal Wicks.

Joining them on the stage are four musicians including musical director William Liberatore, who conducts from the piano.

Because several songs from each show are performed, the audience gets a taste of Lippa’s wide musical range, as well as the talents of his fellow performers.

The show was premiered by London’s Menier Chocolate Factory in 2014. It was directed by the company’s founder and artistic director, David Babani, who co-conceived the show with Lippa. Babani crisply directs this production, too. Rebecca Howell is the choreographer.

The simple set and character-specific costumes are by Morgan Large with lighting by Tim Lutkin and sound by Brendan Aanes. It’s not clear who’s responsible for the haze that permeates the theater throughout the show. It seems unnecessary and might be an irritant to some people.

Otherwise, the show is highly enjoyable throughout its two hours and 15 minutes (one intermission). Now more people are likely to recognize the name of Andrew Lippa.

“The Life of the Party” will continue through Sept. 18 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, Castro and Mercy streets, Mountain View. For tickets and information, call (650) 463-1960 or visit www.theatreworks.org.

 

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