Documentary filmmaker puts on ’60s stage show
By Randall G. Mielke For Sun-Times Media November 8, 2012 12:46PM
"This is the '60s" will be at the Rialto Square Theatre Nov. 9. | Courtesy of This is the '60s
‘This Is The ’60s’
♦ 8 p.m. Nov. 9
♦ Rialto Square Theatre, 102 N. Chicago St., Joliet
♦ Tickets, $29-$65
♦ (815) 726-6600
Updated: November 8, 2012 1:07PM
Jim Duffy is a veteran documentary filmmaker who has written and produced documentaries for such media outlets as the Discovery Channel and the Travel Channel.
It was while he was putting together a proposal for the History Channel that Duffy came up with an idea for the stage show “This Is The ’60s.”
“I was pitching a TV series proposal to the History Channel,” said Duffy, who is the executive producer and director of “This Is The ’60s.”
“The more I worked on the proposal, the more I thought it would make a great stage production. It is a great combination of a stage concert and storytelling.”
“This Is The ’60s” will be presented on Nov. 9 at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet.
The multi-media presentation combines narration, live musicians, dancers and archival 1960s footage projected in on multiple 30-foot screens. The show is a total immersion into the pop culture of the 1960s, including TV commercials, retro dance numbers, vintage fashions and rare historic newsreel footage ranging from the John F. Kennedy assassination to Woodstock.
The show features the music of The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Monkees, The Mamas & The Papas, The Dave Clark Five, The Fifth Dimension, Simon & Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Supremes, The Who and many other artists. All the songs are performed live by a five-person band and two dancers.
“It’s the story of the 1960s, from 1960 to 1970, done chronologically,” said Duffy, who never did send the TV series proposal to the History Channel “It is the story about how music developed and the news events that affected the music.”
The show covers five eras: The Early Years (1960-1963), The British Invasion (1964-1965), America Fights Back (1965-1967), Psychedelia (1967-1968) and Woodstock Nation (1969-1970).
“With each segment, the screen comes down in front of the band and we project news images from that era,” Duffy said. “While that is going on, the cast changes into different costumes.”
When developing the show, Duffy had to pour over hundreds of songs that might be used in the production.
“We had it narrowed down to 75 to 100 songs that were relevant to telling the story,” he said. “So if we had a song by The Rolling Stones already in a later segment, then we would cut an earlier one.
“We are looking historically at these bands,” he continued. “We know we can’t do this show without a Jimi Hendrix song or a Janis Joplin song. And you can’t do the folk music segment without Bob Dylan or Peter, Paul and Mary.”
One of the challenges faced in the show is the synchronization of the film clips and the music being performed.
“There is a lot of film in the show and the band is playing to the film clips,” Duffy said. “When they are performing Dion’s ‘Abraham, Martin and John’ there is a photo montage on the screen, so it all has to be in sync with the lyrics so when John Kennedy is mentioned in the song, that is the image on the screen.”
Although Duffy believes the main appeal of “This Is The ’60s” is the music, he thinks there is added incentive for people to see the show.
“It’s an opportunity for older generations to show younger generations what it was like,” he said of audiences that are often filled with multi-generation families. “It’s a culture-sharing experience.”