Yolande Ramsay for Curtains Up
When stepping back in time, it can be very interesting to also take a step aside to get another perspective. There is so much more to telling the stories of the past than just recounting the facts. How did the facts actually played out? How did these events directly affect the people who lived through them? And, very importantly, what were the hit songs of that time?
Rick Miller’s “Boom” is a must- see one-man show featuring songs, multi-media, and history to tell the story of the Baby Boomers from 1945 until 1969. He brings the era to life in a powerful, poignant, and unforgettable spectacle.
This dynamic story begins with a bang (or BOOM!) with the bombing of Hiroshima and concludes with the launch of Apollo 11 and man walking on the moon. The scope of this history can be daunting to perform. But Mr. Miller avoids a dry retelling of the past by using the stories of three people: his Canadian mother, an African-American man, and an Austrian-born immigrant man. While the world was changing around them, the effects were uniquely different between each of these people. Mr. Miller performs the voices of these three people as well as the voices of the more known figures of the period: Edward R. Murrow, Martin Luther King, and Pierre Elliott Trudeau, just to name a few. Mr. Miller also sings and performs the hit songs of each year from Perry Como to Janis Joplin. The song choices tie in to the mood and the events of the culture of that era.
The show features visual images and video of newscasts, advertisements, bits of historical facts, and TV show clips. However, it is not a bombardment of information. The images are selected to reflect the experiences of the three characters and how it all comes together as a whole. Events are not stand-alone. People are not isolated either. The world touches each person at the same time as they move the world. In a sublime metaphor, an image of Sputnik orbits the stage, as the show presents the larger symbol of how history is cyclical.
Mr. Miller is a marvel. His talent for multi-voice characterisations in speech and song brings the past to glorious life. With light and shadow, costumes, and images, he recreates events in an organic and empathetic tone. Mr. Miller is not a Baby Boomer; he is Generation X. His storytelling is not cynical. He is genuinely interested and caring for the stories of the past generation.
The production design, lighting, and graphics, all work together seamlessly. While the forms and structures appear simple, there is complexity in moving from one variety of style to another. The styles are not meant to be tricky but to show the evolution of information and human relationships.
Even though the Boomers made a big Boom in history, it is in the smaller, quieter stories that show how people really changed the world.
Rick Miller’s “BOOM”: Presented by the Segal Centre and Copa de Oro. Performed, written, and directed by Rick Miler. Show continues until April 10, at Segal Centre, 5170 Chemin de la Côte-Ste-Catherine, Montreal. Tickets $64 to $32. Call the box office 514-739-7944 or go to www.segalcentre.org