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Rick Miller, photo Paul Lampert

Noted Canadian solo performer Rick Miller presents BOOM, billed as “25 years in 100 minutes”. This intelligent, innovative mixed-media work is part history lesson, part storytelling marathon.

Miller enacts just about every character shown on screen as well as his mother and two of the men in her life – a black Chicago blues performer and a Viennese immigrant to Canada – that play a key role throughout the two-act performance. The show’s named after the baby boomer generation.

With Projection Designer David Leclerc’s wizardry, Set, Costume, & Props Designer Yannick Larivee and Miller himself, this piece works through two decades of history told through words, song and text on a circular, sloping stage to complement the visuals.

Rick Miller, photo David Leclerc

He begins with 1945’s Perry Como, with each successive year bringing on new highlights, from Hiroshima to the Beatles. Remember the Tupperware parties of the 1940’s? How about that Camel cigarette TV spot in which more doctors smoke Camels? Nostalgic and comedic at once, Miller provides insight as he mimics the ads as well.

As we enter each year, a few historical facts are shown on the screen with moving text, a quick and dirty history lesson, leading into anything from an atomic bomb dropping to Miller kicking off a tune.

Rick Miller, photo David Leclerc

Get ready for the ride, as Miller’s BOOM incorporates over 100 key figures while exploring the generations, paying particular attention to the effects of war, the atomic bomb and lousy politics.

If anything, BOOM promotes discussion. After each performance, Miller does an audience talk-back.

There’s a lot of great music in here too, showing off Miller’s vocal and instrumental talent. We found his greatest strength in BOOM to be the ability to flawlessly morph from one character to the next.

He’s the consummate performer dressed in an easy suit, handy for quick wig changes and other stylistic gestures appearing behind the thin screen he often lives in, perhaps symbolizing the television, a modern invention that he recalls with youthful excitement.

Rick Miller, photo David Leclerc

While the first act is more intimate as he recounts Austrian family memories with German-style humour, the second half of the show is more focused on North American pop culture and key political world events.

Part of 2016’s PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, this wonderful, often hilarious Arts Club production is a long, strange trip through the years.

BOOM continues through February 13 at Granville Island Stage. Following Vancouver, BOOM will play the National Arts Centre (Ottawa, ON), Segal Centre (Montreal, QC), and Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (Winnipeg, MB).

Photo credits: First photo by Paul Lampert; rest by David Leclerc.

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