Summer of ’69

Where were you in ’69?   

Fifty years ago, who knew that the summer of 1969 would go down in history as one of the best years for music?  So many hits from that year remain popular today, and thanks to Artistic Directors David Rogers and David Hogan we can relive that classic summer.  The Davids have created another hit musical revue, putting together an evening of fun where the audience can feast on nostalgia at Victoria Playhouse in Petrolia.  

Not only does Rogers collect the songs for a young cast with powerful voices to sing – he also provides a comedic script filled with 50-year-old bits of trivia (Did you know Tic Tacs were invented in 1969?).  As well, a big screen shows us the names of songs and artists and gives us faded TV commercials from ’69.  (Remember the Twist and Turn Barbie?)

Each cast member has an opportunity to take the lead in a song with the other four singing backup.  While it’s likely that none of this young cast knew any of the songs when they started rehearsals a couple of weeks ago, they make up for some wobbles in the tunes with their great enthusiasm and ability to belt.  To give you an idea of the times and the music, here is just a smattering of the 69 songs covered in this revue.

Justin Bacchus starts things off with “Grazing in the Grass” by Friends of Distinction.  Later he has an excellent rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay”.  Mélanie Paiement owns the stage with her version of the Tina Turner/Creedence Clearwater Revival hit “Proud Mary” and later with Peter, Paul & Mary’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane”.

Christine McKeon is impressive in her rendition of Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man”.  She also nails the Fifth Dimension’s “Wedding Bell Blues”.

Stephen Ingram sings an audience favourite, earning spontaneous applause for Glen Campbell’s “Galveston” and later he brings back the Oscar-winning movie Midnight Cowboy with “Everybody’s Talkin’”.  Aaron Tessis draws laughter for his version of “A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash.  He also shows his vocal power with Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild”.

The full cast does some cute beach-umbrella choreography with the Fifth Dimension’s “Let the Sunshine In”.  Of course, there is the requisite audience participation, responding with “ba-ba-ba” and “so good” to Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” sung by all five cast members.

The Davids’ specialty is making musical revues that audiences love.  If you remember 1969, you will love this show.  It’s selling out quickly – they have already added 5 performances – so book now.

Summer of ‘69 continues at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until June 26.  Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or 519-882-1221 or visit www.thevpp.ca for tickets.

Photo: Cast of Summer of ’69 in a salute to Sesame Street.  Photo by Diane O’Dell.

Summer of ‘69
Directed and created by David Rogers
Choreographed by David Hogan
Musical Director Mark Payne
Performed by Justin Bacchus, Stephen Ingram, Christine McKeon, Mélanie Paiement, Aaron Tessis.
Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia
June 4 to 23, 2019 (Note: Performances added to the schedule, plus extended to June 26)
Reviewed by Mary Alderson