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Posted on 09-18-2018
As we wrap up our final production of the summer, we are happy to present our last blog post of the 2018 Season.
On The Town is a fun-loving musical about three sailors who have 24 hours to explore the city of New York. Davin Lepisto, who plays the optimistic sailor Chip, has a special connection to this classic musical. Davin’s “Papa”, John George Lepisto, joined the Navy as a part of Water Tender Second Class on July 21, 1941 at only 18 years old. Papa came from the small town of New Castle, PA. The following are just a few highlights of his time serving the Navy:
John George Lepisto
Served on the USS Destroyer Gleaves
During the invasion of Sicily, amidst the chaos of war, his ship mistakenly shot down 23 U.S. planes thinking they were German bombers.
Destroyed 3 merchant ships, 4 barges, 5 doodlebugs, 1 German submarine U616, 2 E boats, 3 German planes, and numerous shore batteries.
Witnessed a U.S. hospital ship getting blown out of the water by a German submarine.
Was on board the ship for almost a year before coming back to the Brooklyn Naval Shipyard.
Was given a 24 hour pass while in NYC.
Drank, danced, saw the sights, got a tattoo, met a woman and almost married her.
Boarded ship and then continued the war effort in Europe.
We had the pleasure of talking with Davin about his experience with On The Town and his connection to his Papa.
What would your Papa say about your performance in On The Town?
He would say that the performance was all too real to his experience in New York. He fell in love, saw the sights, danced, and drank.
What are your favorite memories of him?
My favorite memory of him would be going to Lake Erie for a week every the summer fishing for walleye.
In what ways are you alike?
He was one of the nicest human beings you ever met. He never forgot a name or a birthday and would help out a complete stranger if need be.
Do you find any similarities between Chip and your Papa?
Chip and my papa came from a small Midwestern town where family, friends, and faith were very important. They were both a little naïve and vulnerable being away from home for the first time.
What was the hardest part about being a sailor for him?
Leaving his family.
What did he most enjoy about being a sailor?
Being able to travel and seeing the world for the first time.
What was his proudest moment while serving?
While aboard the USS Gleaves his ship was honored for destroying the German Submarine U616.
You mentioned in the journal that he had strong family values, was it difficult for him to be away from his family for so long?
I can imagine it was very difficult having to leave home as an 18-year-old kid. But at the time, he also felt it was his patriotic duty to enlist after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
Does he have a special quote or advice he gave you?
Sisu! It's a Finnish concept that is described through a combination of English terms including stoic determination,tenacity of purpose, grit, purpose, resilience. It's how Finns express their natural character.
Don't miss Davin and the cast of On The Town at Circle Theatre, on stage for the final four performances of the 2018 Season, this September 19-22 at 7:30pm. Tickets available at circletheatre.org/tickets/onthetown.
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