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Bringing Back the Beat: Lake County’s Lip Sync Journey

Lip Sync is back!   Depending on who you ask, Lip Sync got its start in Lake County either 14 or 15 years ago.  But, did you know that it did not originate in Lake County?  Robert Boccabella of Business Design Services recalls that originally, Lip Sync was an event that the Rotary of Petaluma hosted.  It was headed by Jan Parkinson for several years back in the 90’s.   Boccabella performed in the Petaluma iteration as Garth Brooks and appeared for multiple years before Parkinson moved away and Lip Sync died out.

Many years later, Boccabella, who was thinking of moving to Lake County, had a lunch meeting at Park Place in Lakeport with Melissa Fulton who was at that time the CEO of the Lake County Chamber.  Much to his surprise, Parkinson, who was now residing in Lake County and also the President of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, walked in with a gigantic smile on her face.  The group got to talking and not long after plans were made to revive Lip Sync in this county as a fundraiser for the Chamber.   Boccabella was all too happy to oblige.  In 2009 he dusted off his Garth Brooks “Friends in Low Places” act for the Lake County Lip Sync debut.

The Chamber held the event for many years before turning it over to the Lake County Theatre Company (LCTC) to manage in 2018.  For those of you who have never seen it, It is an entertaining and high energy show with something for everyone.  The first time I went to a Lip Sync, I took my then 9 year old son.  It held his attention and he sang “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” the whole drive home.

Sandy Robertson of Norcoast Life Insurance, who is also one of the sponsors this year, has been in every show since that first show with the Chamber. In fact, Boccabella remembers that she even let him stay at her house as he had not yet moved up here.  She remembers Lip Sync under the Chamber as being more of a social thing back then with not a lot of practice or a lot of complex choreography.  “There were more people involved.  Sometimes 20 people in a group.  People would come and do one song.”  Now, she says, “the groups are smaller for each song and people often appear in multiple songs.”

I asked her what keeps her coming back.  “The comradery and meeting new people from the community.  And, I really enjoy doing it.”  When asked if she’s ever considered auditioning for other LCTC shows she told me she doesn’t have the time, but the rehearsal schedule for this show works.  The week before the show opens and they rehearse every night is a little harder, but since it’s just for one week, she makes it work.  She proudly told me that she still has the perpetual trophy for Favorite Act.  In prior shows, the favorite act, as chosen by the audience, would win a trophy each year. 

When LCTC took over, the plan was to alternate years.  One year would be Lip Sync and the next would be the theatre company’s major fundraiser, the Mr. Lake County Competition.  But, like so many other plans, COVID threw a wrench in things and the 2020 Lip Sync had to be canceled.  This is the first year since COVID that Lip Sync is back, and it’s only the second time that LCTC has been the producer.  And, boy, are they rarin’ to go!

This year’s show is called  Lip Sync, Music That Moves and I’m told there is an Adams Family theme.  It is directed by husband and wife, Larry and Zoe Richardson.  LCTC realized after that first year that they took over that they needed more choreographers and more rehearsal time.  With that in mind, this year they started rehearsing in February and they’ve been rehearsing every Saturday and Sunday at Drinx Bar & Grill (also one of the sponsors) ever since.   Additionally, there are 12 different choreographers for the 26 songs, not counting the 4 ladies performing the song “Menopause” who choreographed that song themselves. 

I usually ask directors if they have any funny stories or surprises to share about their auditions.  I learned that there are no auditions for this show.  Everyone who signs up is in.  The theatre company views this show as an opportunity to give members of the community (of all ages) the chance to experience being on stage.  Those who are too shy, or typically work behind the scenes, or don’t have the time to commit to a full show, but do have time to commit to one or two songs (like Robertson) are all welcome. 

Once a person signs up, they get to pick a song that they’d like to lip sync.  The directors and choreographer then build the performance and the choreography around each person’s abilities.  They are joined on stage by other performers (and experienced dancers) from the company. In that manner everyone has an opportunity to be their best and have a fun experience.  And, the audience also gets a great show.  If you’ve ever been to an LCTC show, you will most likely recognize many of the performers.

Some like Robertson and Boccabella come back year-after-year.  Boccabella eventually stopped performing, but then started set designing for the company.  And, some, like Producer June Wilson-Clarkin sign-up for Lip Sync and go one to become regular members of LCTC acting in the other productions the company puts on.  Wilson-Clarkin most recently appeared in the Dolly Parton role in LCTC’s production of 9 To 5 The Musical.  She did a fantastic job and was definitely not lip syncing in that show.  

This year she’s recruited her family into the act.  Her daughter Jessica Henson and her two daughters are in the show for their first time ever on stage.  They are all having a great time.  I asked the little ones what they like best about being in the show.  Somehow they are brave enough to appear on stage, yet, had to be coaxed into answering me. Ella Wilson, 5, says that her favorite part of the show is “the music and being a cat.”  Her older sister Emma whispered her answer to her mother.  She enjoys “running away like a cat.”  At least 3 other sets of parents are performing on stage with their own kids.  Including the Richardsons.  And, all of those kids have been on stage before.

People of all ages are welcomed into the cast and the show can be enjoyed by all ages.  In fact, while I was there I saw a few Disney songs that the whole family will know.  There are comedy acts and some familiar songs like the Bruno Mars “Lazy Song,” “Born to Be Wild,” “We Will Rock You,” “Soul Bossa Nova” (the Austin Powers Theme Song), and even a Duo Lipa/Brittney Spears combo.  There are also a couple of songs with great titles that I’ve never heard of, like “Spicy Margarita” and “I See Red” that I cannot wait to see.

If you’re looking for a show that the entire family can enjoy and want to support your fellow community members look no further.  Tickets can be purchased at LCTC.us.  The show will be performed at the Soper Reese Theatre at 275 South Main Street.   Performances are Friday and Saturday, May 24th and 25th, at 7p.m.  And, May 26th at 2p.m.  Tickets for all shows are $25, but seniors (60+) can purchase $15 tickets for Friday night only.  There will be one intermission, a silent auction, and concessions.

Charise Reynolds

CHARISE REYNOLDS HAS OVER 30 YEARS EXPERIENCE PERFORMING IN MUSICAL THEATER IN SAN DIEGO, LOS ANGELES, AND LAKE COUNTY. SHE’S A FORMER BOARD MEMBER OF THE LAKE COUNTY THEATRE COMPANY AND MOST RECENTLY HAS TURNED HER ENDEAVORS TOWARD PRODUCING. SHE IS CURRENTLY WORKING ON HER ONE-WOMAN SHOW TITLED “LOVE, LOSS, AND LESSONS LEARNED” SET TO BE PERFORMED IN JANUARY 2022.

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