By Becca Jennings and Jenna Tonsor
Florida Studio Theatre invites you to take a ride, a twist, or even a mashed potato down memory lane with its newest Cabaret, The Wonder Years: The Music of the Baby Boomers. Experience 20 years of music that shaped a generation, and, in many ways, shaped the world.
“There were so many significant moments in music and history that took place as this generation was coming of age, that it only made sense to create a Cabaret that celebrates those moments,” explained Producing Artistic Director (and Baby Boomer) Richard Hopkins.
Featuring songs like “Satisfaction,” and “Jailhouse Rock,” and “The Twist,” The Wonder Years celebrates all things “Boomer.”
“I would describe it simply as the music the Baby Boomers came of age with,” added Lead Developer Rebecca Hopkins. “This Cabaret was a little different to put together because we were telling a generation’s story, not the story of a certain style of music. So, it was more about the people listening to the music more than the people creating it.”
It wasn’t just one single moment, but a series of moments that made this generation and its music what it is today. “It was such a journey,” continued Rebecca Hopkins. “It wasn’t one point in time. It was the whole of it. That’s what’s exciting to me.”
The 1950s were the innocent years. From drive in movies to Howdy Doody and dancing at the hop, these were the simple days. Sweet sentiments sung by artists like Buddy Holly reflected the innocence of the time through music. But sweet and simple wouldn’t last.
Bert the Turtle taught youngsters how to duck and cover in the height of the fear and paranoia of the Cold War. Elvis the pelvis showed up on the scene, shocking parents and topping charts. And television made its way into most American households, setting the stage for the first-ever televised war.
The 1960s ushered in an era of change and turbulence – it wasn’t all love beads and flower power. This is the decade that perhaps most defined this generation, as most who were born in the peak of the Baby Boom came into their formative years during the ‘60s.
Boomers witnessed the assassinations of both JFK and MLK, and many protested or fought in the Vietnam War. They witnessed tremendous progress towards social change and civil rights. They underscored this turbulent period with rebellious rock & roll for youths who just couldn’t “get no satisfaction.”
“So many people view this time through rose-colored glasses,” emphasized Richard Hopkins. “They think of this era as full of peace, love, and excitement, which it was – partially – but it was also a time of great change and uncertainty.”
Audiences are raving about FST’s newest musical revue. Beth Evans called The Wonder Years a “well done history of the Baby Boomers.” Carol Janetzke called it “The best!” Critics agree, saying it “captures changing sounds of a generation” (Sarasota Herald-Tribune) and it’s “a big hit” (Total Theater).
Through it all – the peace, the fear, the love, and the change – The Baby Boomer generation has always had a huge sense of confidence in the future. They are a generation of dreamers. As Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones once said, “Lose your dreams and you might lose your mind.”
“Somehow, these children of the Cold War, who came of age during a time of massive social upheaval, never lost their sense of wonder,” concluded Rebecca Hopkins. “And because of this, they set their goals high—high enough to reach for the stars, walk on the moon, and top the charts with some of the best music ever recorded.”
For tickets and more information about The Wonder Years, click here.