Review: BOOM

by Lynn on March 14, 2022

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person at the Capitol Theatre, Port Hope, Ont. Until March 20, 2020.

Written, performed and directed by Rick Miller

Set, costumes and props designed by Yannik Larivee

Lighting designed by Bruno Matte

Composer and sound designed by Creighton Doane

Projection designer, David Leclerc

BOOM chronicles the events, music and politics between 1945 and 1969—the “baby boomer” years. Rick Miller–performer/singer/writer/storyteller extraordinaire–covers the milestones and events by year and sings songs by performers who captured the essence of those extraordinary times. He touches on such events as the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, McCarthyism, the Cold War, Beatlemania, John F. Kennedy including his assassination, Martin Luther King’s stirring oratory including his assassination, Vietnam etc. Along the way Miller gives voice to over 100 influencers: presidents, politicians, activists, peacemakers and singers in their voice, body language and mannerisms. News reel items are projected on a screen to augment his descriptions of the highlighted events of each year.

Rick Miller frames the 25 boomer years with personal stories of three characters who factor heavily in his life. Maddie is his mother and was born in Port Hope, Ontario; Rudy is from Germany and Laurence is an African-American blues musician. Rick Miller is a masterful storyteller and does not immediately reveal how these three people are connected or even related. He carefully, slowly peels away the layers of the story, year by year, and how the events shaped or affected the three lives. He simply conveys the distinctive body language of each of the three characters. Maddie affects a relaxed stance with one arm crossed in front of her body, the elbow of the other arm resting on the crossed arm, as if she is striking a pose of smoking a cigarette. Rudy is curious, quiet speaking and seems to lean forward in anticipation while he’s talking. Laurence is tall, confident and stands leaning back as if watching the world with a quizzical expression and a growly voice.

Rick Miller captures the essence of his characters in a way that is deeper than just mimicry. With Bruno Matte’s moody lighting every scene is clear and distinct. The shadows created conjure all four Beatles singing “All My Loving” but played and sung by one Rick Miller. With a quick change of various jackets and wigs etc. (kudos to designer Yannik Larivee) Rick Miller segues from the swivel-hipped Elvis Presley singing “Hound Dog” (sounding like Presley as well), to the piano thumping of Jerry Lee Lewis in “Great Balls of Fire”, to Janis Joplin spilling her guts in a raspy voice in “Piece of My Heart” to David Bowie in his reedy voice singing “Space Oddity.” Rick Miller examines each of the 25 years between 1945 and 1969 without rushing but gives a sense of the huge importance of each event in those years that leaves one breathless.

Rick Miller has been performing BOOM all over the world since 2015 (when I first saw the show). One gets the sense that as the world changes, he has tweaked the script to reflect that change. BOOM is now part of a trilogy of plays that includes BOOM X and BOOM YZ and spans 75 years of history, culture and politics from 1945 to 2000. The performance I saw of BOOM in Port Hope on March 10 was the 401st performance. May he play 401 more performances where ever he wants.

Rick Miller has always been a wild man of creativity—energetic, enthusiastic, buoyant and watchful of the events that unfold in our world, with a true story-teller’s perception. Over time he has segued from being a supremely gifted theatre creator to a theatre treasure.

A Kidoons and Wyrd Production present:

Plays until March 20, 2022.

Running Time: 2 hours, one intermission. (905) 885-1071

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