BOOM by Rick Miller at the Belfry Theatre August 4-23, 2015. A Review.

BOOM by Rick Miller at the Belfry Theatre August 4-23, 2015

From the macro to the micro, Rick Miller’s BOOM, currently at the Belfry Theatre until August 23rd, is a sweeping, dazzling and entertaining display of creativity and research. Marrying historical, personal, musical and political observations of the defining moments in a sweeping 25 year overview of the Baby Boom generation this ambitious creation showcases Miller’s enormous talents as an impressionist and voice artist.

Using his mother and two male friends (Rudi from Vienna and Laurence from the US South) as a jumping off point Miller begins methodically in 1945 (the year both his mother and Laurence were born and the inception of the era) with the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima (BOOM opened on the 70th anniversary of this date—a haunting reminder) and moves forward to 1970.

Photo: David Leclerc

Documentary style news clips and photos introduce us to the politics of Europe after the Second World War, while Rudi’s musings about growing up in a city divided between super powers remind us of the considerable differences between European and North American experiences at the time.

Laurence’s story, anchored in black experience—growing up poor, segregation, the rise of the Civil Rights Movement, the War in Vietnam—is the antithesis of Maddie’s in Coburn Ontario where a returning soldier-father finds work at the GM factory, and Saturday nights revolve around Hockey Night in Canada on the brand new television.

Music anchors the memories with brief impersonations ranging from Buddy Holly, Hank Williams and Elvis Presley to the Beatles, Pete Townsend, Mick Jagger and Janis Joplin. Miller hit a definite chord with “Bye Bye Miss American Pie” as the audience sang along to the lyrics.

BOOM transcends the nostalgia-musical genre handily though with its elaborate utilization of transmedia. Much of the action takes place in a central column that serves both as projection booth and screen. Within its confines, Miller interprets the various singers, backed by a variety of instruments ranging from acoustic and electric guitars to piano, and creates shadow puppets of historical figures (Winston Churchill with his signature cigar was splendid). He steps on to the highly raked stage to interact with videos of his mother, Rudi and Laurence and provides voice-over for the hilarious “Rabbit of Seville” with Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd.

The design team—projections (David Leclerc), lighting (Bruno Matte), set/costumes (Yannik Larivée) and music/sound (Creighton Doane)—has produced a superbly synchronized backdrop to highlight and bring myriad stories and episodes to life.

As lecturer, Miller is confident in his thesis as he weaves personal anecdotes with signature moments—the assassinations of John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, the Bay of Pigs, Trudeaumania, Vietnam protests. His compelling storytelling and slow reveal (the audience only finds out near the end of BOOM how Maddie, Rudi and Laurence are linked) reminders of how inexorably people are connected not only by their generation, but inter-generationally.

BOOM is a clear-headed and rationale ode to an era with ample emphasis on legacy. Crucial to Miller’s message is the necessity to understand what we collectively were in order to understand where, as a society, we are headed. No matter where one is situated on the continuum—parent of a boomer, boomer or descendant—BOOM will resonate and raise questions.

Sit back and prepare to be immersed.

BOOM written, directed and performed by Rick Miller
Belfry Theatre, 1291 Gladstone Avenue, Victoria BC
August 4-23, 2015
Tickets $25.20-$51.45 online or by phone 250 385-6815

Rick Miller (Bigger Than Jesus, MacHomer) returns with an explosive new solo performance documenting the music, culture and politics that shaped a generation. BOOM takes us through 25 turbulent years, giving voice to over a hundred influential politicians, activists and musicians – a mind-blowing experience for audiences of all generations.

A Kidoons and WYRD Production
Writer, Director and Performer Rick Miller
Executive Producer Jeff Lord
Projection Designer David Leclerc
Lighting Designer Bruno Matte
Composer & Sound Designer Creighton Doane
Set, Costume & Props Designer Yannik Larivee
Stage & Production Manager Olivier Bourque
Production Assistant Sadie Fox
Directing Consultant Ravi Jain
Stage Manager Marylise Gagnon
Director of Outreach Marketing Craig Francis

Official Site
Education Site

Disclaimer: I was offered complimentary tickets to attend BOOM.

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