When Tyler Coppin pulls off his final wig and does his bow at the end of LyreBird, it’s startling. After watching Coppin transform into Australian actor-slash-drama diva Sir Robert Helpmann during a 90-minute, one-man tribute, it’s easy to forget it’s not Helpmann up there.Which is quite an accomplishment, considering few in the audience even know who Helpmann is, despite his legendary career in dance, theater and film. Helpmann is probably most recognized for being the Child Catcher in the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but was a ballet and theater legend in both England and Australia during the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. Coppin, who grew up in Sacramento but has since made a name for himself in Australia, both wrote and performs in this remarkable show that traces Helpmann’s life from the boonies of Australia to the spotlight of world stages.
The show takes place backstage as Helpmann rests during intermission of Don Quixote and reflects on his long, varied life. Helpmann was also known for his flamboyant openly gay lifestyle, and was the ultimate drama queen, which Coppin captures completely. The only downside to the production is like any drama queen, a little goes a long way with a spotlight whore like Helpmann.