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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Baby Boomers Get Their Due

Alchemist debuts sketch comedy ‘Boomtown!’

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For decades, academics and marketing professionals have thoroughly analyzed the baby boomer generation. Next week a sketch comedy show takes its turn with the boomers in a series of humorous vignettes staged in an intimate studio theater, as playwright Nicholas Cialdini debuts Boomtown! The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Squandering a Century at the Alchemist Theatre.

The show is the product of Cialdini’s fascination with the wildly divergent baby-boomer culture.

“They were hippies or hedge fund managers, country club blue-bloods or tree-huggers, Glenn Beck or Bill Maher,” Cialdini says. “I think one of their legacies is the extremes.”

Cialdini says that he wanted to work with a subject that allows for a broad canvas—and he’s found it. “The boomers cover everything,” he notes.

Cialdini’s harsh critiques should make for some dynamic comedy. “The baby boomers shaped the last 50 years of mainstream American culture,” he says. “Their hypocrisy is well documented, but more interesting is their 100% belief in their own entitlement.”

The show opens with a parody of Rebel Without a Cause (“It’s one of the worst/best movies,” Cialdini says) and closes with an aging boomer couple discussing the possible purchase of a Harley—evidently attempting to regain a sense of the vitality they felt in the ’60s, when Woodstock ruled. The couple’s neighbor is moving to Florida to retire. “Some problems just can’t be solved by rolling around in the mud,” the neighbor says.

Judging from Cialdini’s description, the show’s depth should go beyond traditional, light comedy. This is social satire in sketch comedy format.

Cialdini, who hails from Milwaukee and studied philosophy at Marquette, has worked with Chicago’s Second City. This debut production features an interesting mix of other local talent. Dylan Bolin—best known for his work in local morning radio and his one-man show Peace, Love and a 30-Year Mortgage—and Tim Higgins of ComedySportz join Cynthia Kmak of Bye Bye Liver and Second City’s Grant Collins. Kristina Felske, who wrote part of the show, appears onstage as well. Felske, a Mequon native, met Cialdini at Second City. Milwaukee piano-bar maestro Joe Hite serves as the show’s musical director.

Nicholas Cialdini’s Boomtown! runs July 15 and July 22 at the Alchemist Theatre in Bay View.