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'Boom X' Written, Directed and Performed by Rick Miller

Kidoons and Wyrd Productions Present in Association with Crow's Crow's Theatre, Theatre Calgary and The 20K Collective

Craig Francis

Joe Szekeres

A Voice Choice for Rick Miller’s extraordinary vocal prowess

Rick Miller is one of our finest Canadian theatre storytellers.

‘Boom’ and ‘Boom X’ (which opened May 11 at Crow’s Theatre) remain a testament to the fact he’s Canadian and a fine performer. And he’s ours.

The Boom trilogy is a series of multi-media performances spanning 75 years documenting the politics, music, history, and culture from 1945 – 2020 of three separate time frames. ‘Boom’ (the first) follows the perspective of Miller’s parents. ‘Boom YZ’ (the last) follows the perspective of Miller’s two daughters.

It seems logical ‘Boom X’ comes from the viewpoint of a young Rick Miller, a Gen X-er, and how the culture, music, politics, and history shaped the young man to understand the world around him – through listening, hearing, learning, and taking on a voice to understand better someone else.

Or in the case of ‘Boom X’ over 100 people and their voices. (Side note: actually 200 voices when you consider the 100 he incorporated in the first part).

The production begins where ‘Boom’ left off, at Woodstock in August 1969, and takes the audience all the way to 1995 when the internet began to dominate lives. We travel from the days of disco, the oil crisis, Watergate, the Cold War, video games, punk rock, the (second) British invasion, and more.

The show is part jukebox musical and part historical. But how to define it specifically? Comedy? Drama? Musical? Historical?

Who cares how to define the show? Rick provides a whole lotta creative and intelligent entertainment and that’s the most important thing.

We late Baby Boomers (I was born in 1960) have also been defined by said cultural and historical events of the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. That’s why I enjoyed this production tremendously. These are the years of my high school, undergraduate, and early teaching career and the culture of this time influenced me too. ‘Boom X’ allows a re-visit of these historical moments. Some of them are not pleasant – the James Cross kidnapping and Pierre Laporte murder, the murder of the young women from École Polytechnique are only two – but such events are important reminders that tragedy brings us closer.

I had tremendous fun on this opening night as did others around me. Seeing the tears in Rick’s eyes (I sat in the third row) and hearing him call this evening extra special for him was a moment I’m glad all of us could share together. ‘Boom X’ marks Rick’s debut at Crow’s. He’s also an east-end Toronto guy where the theatre is located so this is home territory for him and provides even more reason to go see the show.

Along with being a congenial host and emcee of the evening, Miller is also one hell of a fit 53-year-old guy.
I can certainly understand why.

With rapid fast changes in amazing costume selection by Virgine Leclerc, Rick motors at a frenetic, yet controlled pace all handled with sleek movements from stages left and right. Combining immediate on-the-spot voice transitions, Rick segues smoothly from one historical moment to the next. He also provides some terrific humourous sendups of certain songs if he couldn’t get the rights to perform.

The tremendous success of ‘Boom X’ relies heavily on the technical elements compared to ‘Boom’. There are moments when the technology must be immediate for a particular effect. And that happens here. If there were any issues, I didn’t notice them.

Bruno Matte’s lighting is crisply and sharply focused. I particularly liked some of the shadowy effects of the various singers whom Miller voices. Craig Francis’s original illustrations still retain their uniqueness. Of worthy mention as well is the marvelous historical perspective projection work of Nicolas Dostie and Irina Litvinenko. These visuals finely underscore the mood Miller creates in each sequence. The scrim centre stage is positioned perfectly from my vantage point in the audience. The historical taglines move across and are easy to read.

Final Comments: ‘Joyous! Rick Miller is one of our finest Canadian theatre storytellers. Can’t wait for ‘Boom YZ’.

In the meantime, go see ‘Boom X’.

Running time: approximately 100 minutes with one intermission.

‘Boom X’ runs until May 28 in the Guloien Theatre at Crow’s Theatre, 345 Carlaw Avenue, Toronto. For tickets, call the Box Office (647) – 341-7390 or crowstheatre.com.

‘Boom X’ Written, Directed, and Performed by Rick Miller
Stage Manager: Craig Francis
Lighting Designer: Bruno Matte
Costume Designer: Virginie Leclerc
Technical Director/Associate Lighting Designer: Aidan Ware
Video and Projection Co-Designers: Nicolas Dostie and Irina Litvinenko

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