Those Fascinating Fifties, a lively musical review that explores and celebrates the 1950s, is happening this weekend, Feb. 12 and 13 at the Eureka Woman’s Center. Through captivating stories (performed by the likes of Jeff DeMark, among others,) familiar rock ‘n roll, and nostalgic memories, this show promises to entertain and transport you to days gone by.
Best of all? It’s all performed by Humboldt Light Opera Company’s new Boomer+ Troupe, a talented and enthusiastic ensemble of “second half” performers who have thrown themselves into the fun and magic of musical theater.
Working with HLOC’s artistic director, Carol Ryder, I first met many of these people during auditions last fall. One by one, they would file into the room. Understandably a bit nervous nearly every one of them said the same thing. While they may not have had much stage experience, they were interested in doing something fun and different, even, as one of them put it, “if makes my palms sweat!”
Some of the storytellers I first met during my writing classes through OLLI. Again, I was impressed by the spirit these people brought to their writing. There was an enthusiasm for sharing their stories and a real dedication to crafting the best possible version of their experiences.
During the first rehearsal, I wondered if we might have a mutiny! In order to create a meaningful and entertaining script, Carol and I had the entire cast respond to nearly 30 different writing prompts about the 1950s. From daily chores to the Cold War and everything in between, we explored the cast’s experiences during this decade. Those who were teenagers at the time had vivid memories, while others who had been in their earlier, formative years, had meaningful bits and pieces of their lives come bubbling up. By the end of that first rehearsal, we knew we had enough material to craft an engaging script.
Rehearsing has been a positive experience. They are a cooperative, supportive group, each and every one of them a team player. I’m happy to report we don’t have one overwhelming ego in the bunch and I marvel at our good fortune to have assembled people who are giving the show their absolute all!
But I’ve also wondered if this good natured approach to this show might be a reflection of our collective ages? We’re all old enough to know the value of working together. We seem to recognize that our ultimate goal is to present the most entertaining show possible. Given our ages and vast life experiences, we seem to have made an unspoken agreement to come together for the learning, the challenge, and yes, the fun.
Which is why I’m quite happy to be a 64 year who is thoroughly enjoying a wonderful opportunity with 22 like-minded people. Sure, we’re all hoping our memories won’t fail us or that we’ll remember the dance steps. (Wait until you see this group. They have nothing to be worried about.) But come next weekend, I’m confident we’ll be giving our audiences something very worthwhile.
Join us won’t you? You’ll be tapping your toe with the very first note and then enjoy a glorious ride through a decade that set our country on a very specific specific course.
Those Fascinating Fifties is a fundraiser for both HLOC and HSU’s OLLIE, programs that serve the over fifty learner.
Performances are on Friday, Feb. 12 at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, February 13 at 2:00 and 7:00 p.m. at the Eureka Woman’s Center. (1531 J St., Eureka.) Tickets are $20 for general admission and $18 for OLLI members and may purchased by calling OLLI at 826-5880 or online at humboldt.edu/olli. (Space is limited so it is advised you purchase your tickets in advance.)