Upstage and CharPo Contributor Sarah Deshaies spoke with Director Thom Currie and Choreographer Stephanie Graham About Hudson Village Theatre’s presentation of Back in ’59.
UPSTAGE: Thom you wrote Back In ’59 - where did the idea come from to look back at the 50s in the 70s?
CURRIE: I got the idea from my high school reunion. I was looking around for subject matter to write a 50s revue. There was a huge revival of the 50s in the early 70s; American Graffiti, Laverne & Shirley, Happy Days. I thought that was a period when people were looking back nostalgically at the 50s. So that became my starting point. I wondered what it would have been like to have had that pop music as part of your youth.
UPSTAGE: Seems like in the last couple of years, many trends have come back, music and clothing-wise.
CURRIE: The post baby boom are really the generation that have taken a shine to looking back fondly at what came before.
UPSTAGE: Tell us a little bit about the story. Four characters at a reunion. Some people look forward to reunions, others avoid them.
CURRIE Basically, they got bored and they’ve all snuck away from the reunion. They used to sing together at all the assemblies, graduation; and that’s the springboard for reminiscing about their musical past.
UPSTAGE: Do you get a sense from the audience that they’re transported to another era?
CURRIE: From the first note to the last. All the songs selected were all Top 10 hits between 1959 and 1964. None of them are particularly iconic. There’s no Elvis in the show.
UPSTAGE: Did you have a favorite you wanted in the show?
CURRIE: Yes. My absolute favorite is Teen Angel. We have a medley of songs about traffic accidents.
UPSTAGE: This was originally part of Showboat Festival in Ontario. Seems to me this song is designed for Montreal audiences.
CURRIE: Stephanie did a lot of research into the choreography of the time. People are blown away by the energy in the dance.
UPSTAGE: Stephanie, what did you look at to make it seem authentic?
GRAHAM: Hardly any of those groups were doing their shows on American Bandstand but at that time every group had choreography incorporated into their music.
we had to spend some time on jive rock n roll
UPSTAGE: How did the cast take to these dance moves?
GRAHAM: Well they’ve all had dance training so they pick it up quickly. But we had to spend some time on jive rock n roll.
UPSTAGE: The last time this show was staged it was a sellout. What was opening night like at Hudson?
CURRIE: Full house. They loved the show. They were on their feet before the finale ended. Showboat Festival Theatres is in the Niagara region so we didn’t know what to expect here.
UPSTAGE: Was the audience made up of any specific age range?
CURRIE: It was a real mixed bag. Good pop music I always think is good for any generation.