Making its D.C. debut, after performances in New York and Georgia, Fool in Love: The Frankie Lymon Story , written and directed by Thomas W. Jones II, is playing at the Silver Spring Black Box Theatre starring Rayshun Lamarr as Frankie Lymon, featuring Roz White and Lori Williams as the ensemble.

Rayshun Lamarr

Despite Lymon’s tragic ending, and personal ups and downs, Lamarr’s high-energy and high-pitched singing, and the sweet, soulful, and sensual sounds of White and Williams, helps audiences understand why the world fell in love with Lymon, almost 50 years since his passing in 1968.

“It’s a classic retelling of a story that should be heard historically... We know about the Little Stevies of the world… but the Frankie Lymons of the world become obsolete. You don’t hear so much about them or their lifestyles so we want to make sure their story is told accurately and authentically,” said Williams, who works as a professional performer and music teacher.

Lori Williams

Some may remember the Warner Bros Pictures 1998 film, Why Do Fools Fall in Love, starring Larenz Tate as Frankie Lymon, yet the cast of Fool in Love said Jones’ rendition of the teenage star’s story is better for truly understanding his life.

“He was a great artist despite the downfalls. He was a wonderful artist. He put out great music… and I just think people need to know his story other than the movie that’s out. I think you get a little more understanding through the show, than you do just looking at the movie. And I think it’s just important for people to come see it in real life. To see the action of it- the story, and what happened when, how it went down, and to actually be there in the presence. I know it’s not reality, but just to be there live is a great thing to do,” said Lamarr.

With musical composition and arrangement by William Knowles, and the talented singing of Lamarr, White, and Williams, audiences are able to get a feel for live doo-wop performances and the infectiousness of Lymon and his music.

“So this man right here [Lamarr as Lymon], live singing, high like that all night, that’s crazy, and it’s just so natural, and you get a glimpse of what it would have been like to hear a Frankie Lymon.   You wouldn’t know that with the movie because somebody’s lip-syncing to his voice, but this dude is singing every night,” White said.

Roz White

“And you also get to be in the environment that Frankie worked in. Frankie was not in a can. He was singing to you in a real live fashion. And it’s a very different energy to have real people singing and real playing, than someone playing the air guitar or something, or someone who makes beats,” said Knowles, who has been part of the production since its original staged-reading in 2010 at the Triad Theatre in New York.

Knowles said this is the first time the show has had this long of a run, having opened October 26 and closing November 19, with normally seven shows Thursdays through Sundays.

“It’s swinging. It’s fun to lay it out for a long period of time, because really it’s a show that doesn’t wear out…. It’s just fun,” said Knowles.

Despite ultimately knowing his tragic ending, the storytelling of Lymon’s life, was told with the fun and light-heartedness associated with listening to doo-wop music. With song, dance, comedic relief, and audience interaction, the show keeps viewers engaged, on the edge of their seats, and singing and snapping along to the doo-wop.

While Lamarr takes the audience om Lymon’s emotional, entertainment, roller-coaster through doo-wop songs and heart-wrenching ballads, White and Williams, as the ensemble, are tasked with singing show-stopping tunes and playing multiple characters, including the many women and wives in the notorious, teenage womanizer’s life.

The performers appear to be having a great time on stage, as they completely committ to the singing, dancing, and acting throughout the whole show, fully transforming into the characters they are embodying.

“I enjoy it. I enjoy the music from that time, I enjoy how they word, all the little slang, and their lyrics. Just to be able to sing that every night is fun…It’s like bam. Nonstop, No break… I sweat my clothes out every single night,” Lamarr said.

To see Lamarr sweat out his clothes, or simply enjoy a night of live theatre, tickets for Fool in Love can be purchased at the box-office at the Silver Spring Black Box Theatre or Brown Paper Tickets. The show runs until November 19, Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.