When I interviewed Rick Miller a few weeks ago for a Suburban preview of his one-man show called BOOM at the Segal Centre, I knew that Montreal theatre-goers were in for something very unique. The three week run concludes April 10 and after having seen a matinee presentation earlier this week I am completely in awe with what this man does during his two hours on the stage.
A Dora and Gemini award-winning writer/performer/director based in Toronto, Miller grew up in Town of Mount Royal and trained as an architect, actor, musician, playwright and visual artist. He has performed in five languages on five continents. BOOM, a Kidoons and WYRD production, is being presented by Copa de Oro and the Segal Centre. Written, directed and performed by Miller, BOOM is an explosive stage documentary chronicling the post-war Baby Boom years.
“One man, 25 years and 100 of the most influential figures is one way to describe the show,” Miller told me.
Originally commissioned by the Stratford Festival, BOOM brings the past back to life via Miller’s storytelling. It chronologically documents the historical period stretching from that first “boom” of the Atomic Bomb in 1945, to Apollo 11 landing the first human beings on the Moon in 1969, Beatlemania, Trudeaumania, “The Summer of Love” and much more! This allows audiences to relive iconic moments in music, culture and politics of 25 of the most tumultuous years in modern history. Miller uses cutting-edge multimedia, turning the stage into a giant slide projector. I must say I have never seen a set quite like this. I was glad to see many young students in the audience because this is a living history lesson, brought to live via a very neat collection of news clips and headlines.
Miller enters the stage to warm up the audience and then engages in what looks like three live conversations with his mom and two other personalities (we won’t spoil that ending as to whom they are). While it is pre-recorded, you really cannot tell for the back and forth is right on the mark. Miller mimics 100 different voices to perfection during this show, from Ed Sullivan to John F. Kennedy and Pierre Elliott Trudeau. He performs songs from the likes of John Lennon, Joni Mitchell, Hank Williams, Buddy Holly and many others – again right on the mark.
In the program book he tells interviewer Caitlin Murphy that while attending École St. Clement in TMR he remembers imitating the late Roger Doucet who sang O Canada at Habs games. He went on to say he would sit in his bedroom and try to imitate rock singers in the 70s and 80s. “The first ones I think I nailed down were Neil Diamond and Barbara Streisand,” he said.
BOOM, Miller maintains, is not really about parody but rather trying to recreate historical moments.
Miller takes the time after each presentation to have a talkback with the audience. He told our group that he wants to return here in the not too distant future to do the French version of the show. In addition, the entire show will soon be available on DVD for high schools. Now that is something neat. BOOM is so good that many people are returning for a second time. If you do decide to come back with friends or family members who haven’t yet seen it, you will receive a 15 percent discount on up to two tickets for that second viewing. Just hold on to your original ticket stub and show it at the box office.
BOOM will be at the Segal Centre, 5170 chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine until April 10, with shows Sunday through Thursdays and talkbacks after each performance. For complete details log on to www.segalcentre.org or call 514-739-7944.