San Luis Obispo Little Theatres spring fundraiser tells the story of the 1960s.
My Generation: The music, magic and milestones of the most tumultuous decade in American history reunites the team behind the San Luis Obispo theater companys previous hit, This Is Rock N Roll! The Alan Freed Story.
Whereas that show focused on a single figure the disc jockey credited with coining the term rock n roll in the 1950s My Generation attempts to encompass an entire decade, from the British Invasion to the Summer of Love.
I love that era, said choreographer Drew Silvaggio, who collaborated with director Kevin Harris, writer David Vienna and music director Stephen Tosh. It was a very interesting time in the world a lot of progress and a lot of free love. What can you hate about that?
Set in Southern California, My Generation depicts such cultural touchstones as the civil rights movement, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the Vietnam War from the perspectives of three main characters.
Booking agent Max Hirsch (Marcus DiMaggio) works behind the scenes of Dance-O-Rama!, a musical variety show in the same vein of American Bandstand.
He thinks of himself as a progressive, Vienna said, but when hes confronted by these real-life issues, its revealed hes kind of old-fashioned.
As the play opens, Max discovers that his co-worker/girlfriend, Amy Peterson (Kerry DiMaggio), is pregnant. The two hastily marry, but Amy longs for her own life as a songwriter.
Meanwhile, their musician friend Billy Trotter (Redzuan Abdul Rabin) is forced to confront his identity as a black man as he encounters racial prejudice.
He represents a bigger picture. Theres a lot more thrown into his storyline from news events, Vienna said, such as the 1965 Watts Riots and the 1964 championship bout between boxers Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston.
A true rock n roll musical, My Generation intersperses the action with popular music from the 1960s, ranging from sweet pop tunes such as Neil Sedakas Calendar Girl and Elvis Presleys Fools Rush In to rebellious rockers like The Rolling Stones (I Cant Get No) Satisfaction and The Whos My Generation.
For instance, a scene set at an Army training camp features The Surfaris instrumental surf rock standard Wipe Out. The driving beat reveals an undertone of fear, said Silvaggio, artistic director for Civic Ballet of San Luis Obispo.
Simon&Garfunkels The Sound of Silence captures mourners grief
over a slain soldier, while Nina Simones Feeling Good underscores two characters very different journeys.
The mother is singing it in terms of her own journey of having to deal with the death of her son, explained Harris, SLO Little Theatres managing artistic director. Amy is actually feeling good. Shes finally becoming empowered. Her career is starting to take off. Shes really embracing all the changes that are only happening because of Vietnam.
My Generation also throws in references to the time periods most popular books and albums such as Betty Friedans The Feminine Mystique and The Jimi Hendrix Experiences Are You Experienced.
So much of (the 1960s) is iconic and so different, Harris said. We knew there were certain milestones that we had to hit, but we didnt want to linger on them.
However, Vienna was determined to recognize a couple Space Race landmarks, including the 1966 premiere of Star Trek.
Before the word existed, I made (Max) a Trekkie, he said.
Now that SLO Little Theatre has tackled the 1950s and the 60s, the My Generation team said theyre considering a show set in the 1970s.
We want a quality play, Vienna said. We dont want to shy away from some tough topics, but ultimately we want it to be entertaining and we want it to be fun.
Reach Sarah Linn at 781-7907.