CHANNELING TIP: When Dick Flavin, a longtime Boston political commentator, wrote a one-man show about former House speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr. 10 years ago, he never imagined playing the role. But he’s happy to be doing so now.
Flavin stars in “According to Tip” at the Firehouse Center for the Arts in Newburyport Friday through next Sunday.
“Tip O’Neill was the most colorful political figure of his time, and one of the most significant. He crossed swords and lifted a glass with all the giants of the age; Reagan, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and more,” said Flavin. “It was a challenge to write about, and it is a challenge to portray, such a unique character.”
Flavin has an insider’s perspective, as he knew O’Neill personally as well as professionally. “According to Tip” is filled with history, humor, and a bit of music.
It traces O’Neill’s life from growing up in Cambridge, where he entered local politics; to the Massachusetts State House; and eventually to the halls of Congress on Capitol Hill. For the play, Flavin drew from O’Neill’s own words, those of his colleagues, congressional records, and other writings.
Directed by Richard McElvain, “According to Tip” is presented by Paul T. Boghosian/HarborSide Films and the Firehouse Center.
Flavin is the winner of seven New England Regional Emmy Awards for television writing and commentary. He has taught courses on the uses of humor and satire at Harvard University and Brandeis University.
“The play and what [O’Neill] stood for is really a call for the return of civility to the political debate,” Flavin said. “I hope that the play has a long life. I hope it will serve as a kind of legacy for me.”
Performances are 8 p.m. Friday; 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $35; $30 for senior citizens and Firehouse members; $20 for students.
Call 978-462-7336 or visit firehouse.org.
SINGING FOR VOTES: In Good Company presents “The White House Chair: Presidential Campaign Songs That Changed America,” next Sunday at the Winchester Unitarian Society.
Today, songs rarely play a significant role during presidential campaigns. But for many years, campaign songs were an important part of the election process.
Many of America’s best-known poets and songwriters provided words and music for campaigns or, in the case of the early presidents, tribute songs.
“The White House Chair” includes many examples of influential presidential campaign songs from the time of George Washington through Dwight D. Eisenhower. There are many opportunities for the audience to sing along.
The show is directed by Kay Dunlap, a choral conductor and arts administrator in New England for more than 30 years and founder and former director of Revels Repertory Company.
In Good Company was created by members of the former Revels company in September. Ensemble members represent 17 communities in Greater Boston and combine many years of performance experience.
Doors open at 3 p.m. and the show begins at 4 p.m. A reception follows the performance. Tickets are $20 for adults; $10 for students (not recommended for children under 6).
Call 781-412-4642, or e-mail email@example.com.
AUTHOR’S CORNER: Maggi Smith-Dalton, author of “A History of Spiritualism and the Occult in Salem: The Rise of Witch City,” presents a fireside talk in Abbot Public Library in Marblehead at 2 p.m. today. The book explores the religion of Spiritualism, an important element in 19th-century culture worldwide, using Salem as the connecting thread. Smith-Dalton is also author of “Stories and Shadows from Salem’s Past.”
IN LOCAL GALLERIES: “Motes Motifs,” an exhibit of new works by Skip Motes, is at the Newburyport Art Association through Nov. 10. A reception is 3 to 5 p.m. next Sunday. Motes works in pastels, building texture with printing inks and dry color pigments, to interpret the Great Marsh and seacoast landscapes of the region. . . . “Lowell through My Eyes,” an exhibit of paintings by Nita Leger Casey, is at The Loading Dock Gallery at Western Avenue Studios in Lowell Wednesday through Nov. 25. A reception is 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. Using oils, watercolor, and pastels, Casey focuses on the play of light and a sense of place. She often finds inspiration on the back roads from her Pepperell home to her Lowell studio. Born and raised in France, Casey attended the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Orleans and the Ecole de Dessin in Paris.