note: entire contents copyright 2008 by Beverly Creasey
All the pols came out to New Rep for the world premiere of Dick Flavin’s ACCORDING TO TIP (playing through July 13th). You felt just like you were back in the day. Even former state treasurer Bob Crane got into the act, crooning with the Dixieland band outside the theater before the show.
It’s a treat to have Flavin back. His wry, wiseacre commentary is sorely missed on the evening news. But here he is writing a one-man show which captures O’Neill’s sense of humor ---and fair play---and it sounds so authentic, that you imagine the Speaker of the House might have written it himself, if he decided to trade politics for the theater.
When Ken Howard takes the stage, it almost takes your breath away. He doesn’t just portray Tip O’Neill…He is Tip, just as we remember him, with that great mop of white hair atop his head, rosy cheeks and ears and his beloved cigar. Howard has the cadence down, of his voice and his walk, and the resemblance is unnerving.
Act I has the juiciest dish: O’Neill’s battle with Cardinal (then an Archbishop) Law, his brush with the legendary Mayor Curley and a sweet lesson he learned from a certain Mrs. O’Brien whose lawn he mowed. Act II is more serious but elicits more resonance because of O’Neill’s recollections about Viet Nam and the folly which led us into a war we couldn’t win. Director Rick Lombardo keeps the pace running at a good clip and Howard literally fills the stage with O’Neill’s booming presence. If you’re a student of history… if you remember the good old days, you’ll want to see this remarkable tribute to the grand, legendary Speaker of the House.