Rick Miller’s father was seven years old in April 1945. At that time, he lived in war-torn Vienna, Austria. On the day the Russian army liberated Vienna, he went out to a courtyard, where Russian soldiers asked him for directions in return for a chocolate bar. He got in their Jeep and went with them around the city for the afternoon. After four hours, the soldiers returned him to his house, and the colonel thanked his parents for the services of such a skilled young tour guide. That night, over 100, 000 women in Vienna were raped by Russian soldiers. Not one woman on his street was touched.
Miller didn’t hear this story until he was an adult. When he questioned why his father had never told him before, the simple response was, “You never asked. Or you never listened.”
“And so I decided to start asking and listening a little bit more,” says Miller. He started looking for stories everywhere, even in the most ordinary places. A bridge hall, a pesticide commercial, a Beatles song — all tied together by a single generation: the Baby Boomers.
From these stories, Rick Miller created BOOM, a one-man extravaganza in which he does over 100 voices in 100 minutes, doing impressions of everyone from Winston Churchill to Mick Jagger to Pierre Trudeau to Martin Luther King Jr., and many more.
The Baby Boomers were a generation of escapists, Miller points out. They wanted to avoid thoughts of A-bombs and war in Vietnam. As distant as these events may seem to a student going to MacEwan University in Edmonton in 2015, there’s much we can learn. After all, things aren’t so different now. Wars are still happening in the Middle East, people are still dying every day, and most people simply prefer not to think about these things. We’d rather listen to the latest pop songs or watch whatever’s new on Netflix. BOOM is meant to be a reminder of the bigger picture.
The music, stories, characters and themes that comprise Rick Miller’s BOOM are timeless, as interesting and applicable today as they were then. There are many, many lessons we can take from it, but perhaps the most important takeaway is that history is cyclical. It constantly repeats itself, and as Miller says, “We just don’t fucking learn!”
BOOM is being performed at the Citadel Theatre until Oct. 11. Tickets start at $30.