July 5, 2011
By Joe Leary
Special to the BIR
Filled with deep laughter, happy songs, humorous political history lessons, and Dick Flavin’s magnificent acting, this one-man performance of “According to Tip” holds the audience’s attention riveted to the stage.
Flavin was interrupted several times by spontaneous applause during the June 23d performance, with the audience especially enthusiastic about “Tip O’Neill’s” tribute to his wife Millie after the singing of “I’ll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time.”
The Lyric Stage Theatre on Clarendon Street is an ideal location for a play like Flavin’s. Close-to-the-stage seating brings the action right into the audience.
The play is an American political history lesson covering some of our most destructive government leaders – Nixon, Agnew, and Gingrich – and some of Tip O’Neill’s greatest heroes – John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, and James Michael Curley, all done with gracious humor and a most entertaining style. The outspoken Speaker of the U.S. House, who was known for his devotion to helping the less fortunate and offering a hand to friends and foe alike, would be very pleased with Dick Flavin’s interpretations.
Here was a North Cambridge man, from a working-class family and neighborhood, who over 50 years in public life became both the first Democratic speaker of the Massachusetts House and then went on to Congress where he ascended to the House speakership over the next 25 years. He was one of our nation’s most accomplished and productive political leaders.
Tip O’Neill did it all with both a tough “don’t get in my way style” and a balancing, finely tuned, sense of playful humor. If he were still with us to hear Dick Flavin sing his songs, he would have insisted that he and his long-time friend Leo Diehl get up on the stage and join in.
Everyone, especially those interested in current politics, should try to experience this extraordinary performance, which is scheduled to complete its run on Sun., July 3, at the Lyric Stage, 140 Clarendon St. in Boston’s Back Bay.