LyreBird: Tales of Helpman has a history as remarkable as its story. A one-man show, written and performed by Tyler Coppin, it recounts the life story of the late Sir Robert Helpmann, a famed Australian choreographer and actor. Flamboyantly gay when homosexuality was anathema, he "put the ham into Hamlet" but is mainly remembered in the U.S. for a role in Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang.
The slight and modest Coppin is almost the exact opposite in personality but recreates a compellingly real alter ego on stage. Yet his story, and the story of his play, is equally curious. A Sacramento native he went to Australia at 19, where he studied drama at a prestigious school, then stayed on to make his home there. LyreBird, his masterpiece, has been a sensation in Australia, England, New Zealand and Scotland.
Now, 30 years later, it finally makes its U.S. premiere in his birthplace, earning standing ovations in a packed theater. What's more, the location is far from the downtown theater district. It takes place in a small but charming community center in a residential area south of Highway 50.
LyreBird continues through February 22 at 2729 24th Street in Curtis Park. Performances are Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets, $20 and $24, are available at http://www.tix.com/, http://www.sacramentolyrebird.com/ or http://www.seeaplay.com/. Website is http://www.lyrebirdtalesofhelpmann.com/.
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