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'Wrap Your Heart Around It' masters tales, talent and the accordion

July 26, 2013|By Lynne Heffley | By Lynne Heffley
  • LynnMarie Rink and her band in Paul Miller's production of "Wrap Your Heart Around It" at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank.
LynnMarie Rink and her band in Paul Miller's production… (Photo by Chelsea…)

You may never think of polka — or the accordion — in the same way again. And don't forget to bring a box of tissues. In her one-woman show, "Wrap Your Heart Around It," at the Falcon Theatre, accordion player, polka music superstar and five-time Grammy nominee LynnMarie Rink has a story to tell. And she's telling it with rare and eloquent honesty.

With her director, theater veteran and solo artist Michael Kearns, and backed by top-notch pro musicians — Paul Cartwright (fiddle), Joey Ayoub (bass), Chris Steele (percussion), Nashville guitarist and the show's music director Paul Carrol Binkley — Rink draws audiences into a life of challenge, success, heartbreak and redemption. Not incidentally, this talented artist also proves that accordion-fueled polka rhythms can be downright irresistible.

The show begins when Rink picks up "the box": a gleaming accordion with crimson red bellows that has been placed center stage on a draped ottoman like a jewel in a display window. Rink, blond, petite and youthful in jeans, informs us that she has been playing since age 11. She favors the button accordion, she says, rather than the piano-keyboard-style preferred by her father — bar owner, band leader, the life of the party, volatile alcoholic and "a man you could love and hate in the same second." His destructive legacy will provide the framework for Rink's autobiographical journey.

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Rink then hops onto the set's raised bandstand to perform the Who's "Mama's Got a Squeezebox," singing the salty lyrics in a big musical voice, stepping lively in cowboy boots, the fingers of her right hand flying over the accordion's multiple rows of buttons.

It's a jaunty prelude to a story about a woman's struggle with depression and stunted sense of self, rooted in a childhood damaged by "fear and secrets." (Rink's unspoken job when little was to remove the evidence of her father's morning after: the empty beer bottles and cigarette butts.) Rink's struggle is magnified tenfold when she gives birth to a special-needs child.

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