I’ve written before about how Tom Paxton said, about nostalgia, that it is OK to look back as long as you don’t stare. Today, we went to an exercise in nostalgia—specifically, the musical “Boomermania” (at the North Hollywood Arts Center), which purports to be a musical about baby boomers (i.e., those born between 1950 and 1964, roughly). Both my wife and I fall into this category, so we are well suited to judge this category. I should note that Boomermania is one of the longer running musicals in LA for 2011; tonight was the close of a seven month run.
So what did we think of Boomermania? Somewhere between cute and cutesy. Boomermania is a look back at the baby boom generation, framed in a story about a high-school student in 2525 finding a time capsule and wanting to learn about the period. The first half of the musical focuses on the 1960s, primarily the period from 1964 to 1969 as rock music was coming into play. There are remembrances of the duck and cover drills, reminders of what TV was like, and most importantly, emphasis on the “flower power” and protest period. This is all told with classic tunes from the period updated with parody lyrics. The authors of the musical (book, lyrics, and direction), Debbie Kasper and Pat Sierchio, do a reasonable job with the lyrics—not at the level of Shakespeare or Kander and Ebb, but passibly entertaining. The second act focuses on the 1970s and after, exploring the drug scene, disco, fashion, and the inevitable college reunions and retirement homes. Again, there are aspects that are silly, but the tunes are recognizable and the lyrics OK.
Did we find the show entertaining? That’s a different question, perhaps skewed by our perspective. There were people in the audience that were obviously entertained by the show, laughing and playing along. We were a lot quieter, finding only about 20% of the show laugh out loud funny. That’s most likely due to the fact that we were the nerd contingent: the students who were playing with the nascient computer field, as opposed to being out in the rock and roll, disco, and dancing/partying scenes. So perhaps we weren’t the stereotypical target audience.
I do have to say the show was well performed. Given that there weren’t specific characters, it was difficult to tell the specific actors apart even with a program—but that wasn’t a problem, as all were strong singers and dancers. The ensemble consisted of Daniel Amerman, Scott Reynolds, and Dylan Vox in the male roles, and Alison Friedman, Anne Montavon, and Sarah Weismer in the female parts.
Turning to the technical: The show was overamplified—perhaps the sound designer, Sean Kilian, thought all baby boomers had lost their hearing from rock music. The overamplification was clear: it left the singers sounding muddy, and left the audience with headaches. The lighting, by Coby Chasman-Beck, was very well done and evoked the mood well. The costumes by Erica D. Schwartz did an excellent job of capturing the period, The wig stylist didn’t get a larger credit but she shoud: Katy Harvy did an outstanding job with the large number of wigs that made this show succeed. Dove Huntley‘s set was suitably flexible and served the production well. Supporting the set well was the excellent multimedia design by Dan J. Foegelle and Pat Sierchio, which included some truely great videos and visuals.
The production was directed by Debbie Kasper and Pat Sierchio, the authors. Choreography was by Edward Carignan, and did a good job of capturing the movement. Mary Ekler was the musical director, composer, arranger, and pianist, and led a six piece band that was hidden somewhere I couldn’t find. Heather Gonzalez was Production Stage Manager, and Michael Anthony Gremo was the general manager.
The performance we saw was the closing performance of “Boomermania“.
Upcoming Theatre, Concerts, and Dance: Next weekend sees us in Sherman Oaks for “Kvetch“ at the Whitefire (and it is good weekend for Erin to see “Tick Tick Boom!” at The MET Theatre). The fourth weekend of October brings “Annie” at Cabrillo Music Theatre on October 22. The last weekend of October brings “Victor Victoria” at the Malibu Stage Company on Saturday. November will start with “The Robber Bridegroom” at ICT on November 5. It will also bring “Day Out With Thomas” at Orange Empire (We’re working Veterans Day, but we’re not sure about the weekend yet). Karen will also be seeing “Riverdance” at the Pantages on November 16. I’m still waiting to ticket “Bring It On” at the Ahmanson (held for November 25, pending ticketing, hottix on sale for our block on November 8). Thanksgiving weekend also brings the last show of the REP season, “The Graduate”, on Saturday November 26. Also of potential interest, if time is available, are “A Sentimental Journey: The Story of Doris Day” at the El Portal (Nov 2-20), “Don’t Hug Me, I’m Pregnant” at the Secret Rose (9/30-11/20; Theatremania has $10 tickets with code “PREGNANT”); or “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center (11/19-12/16). Not of interest is “South Street” at the Pasadena Playhouse, given the reviews. The first weekend of December is lost preparing for ACSAC, although I might squeeze in something on Saturday. The next weekend is busy, with a Mens Club Shabbat in the morning, and “Travels with my Aunt” at the Colony Theatre in the evening. The remainder of December is unscheduled, but I’m sure we’ll fill things in for Winter Break. Of course, there is the de rigueur movie and Chinese food on Christmas day. As always, open dates are subject to be filled in with productions that have yet to appear on the RADAR of Goldstar or LA Stage Alliance.