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November 11, 2009 > Theatre Preview: The Age of the Aquarius

Theatre Preview: The Age of the Aquarius

By Alissa Gwynn

"So you say you want a revolution?" Look no further than Newark Memorial High School's Performing Arts Department. In their revolutionary play, "The Age of the Aquarius," writer and director Steve Harrington brings the Sixties - bra burning, Black Power protests, and all - to life. Presented as a series of vignettes, the cast of 22 students explores all aspects of the "sex, drugs, and rock'n roll" era in a fabulous production of song and dance.

The play, which serves as a tribute to the nine veterans from Newark High School that sacrificed their lives to fight in Vietnam, takes the audience on a roller coaster of emotion throughout the 75-minute production. From the happy-go-lucky re-creations of songs, such as the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine," to the goose bump-inducing protest chants, it's impossible not to feel the passion emanating from the actors. Innovative use of props and lighting aids in creating intensity of these scenes; strobe lights and gunshot sounds are used in the slow-motion recreation of President John F. Kennedy's death scene. Another effect that enhances the Sixties atmosphere is a television screen mounted on the backdrop with a montage of images applicable to the events occurring onstage.

In addition to the lighting and effects, the set and decorations around the theater are novel and beautifully crafted. War slogans, posters of Woodstock, real newspapers taken from the San Francisco Chronicle archives, and a multitude of American flags cover the walls around the seats. Additionally, high school photographs of the nine Vietnam War veterans - Roy Raul Barrera, Jr., Robert Carl Boyd, Mark Jeffrey Miller, Martin Walter Moreno, Van Harvey Pearson, Joseph Lynwood Shreve, Jr., Robert Eugene Smith, Jr., Paul George Telles, and Kenneth Albert Wedman - are displayed. The set is a collage of the Sixties that mirrors the play itself; events and pictures to symbolize each year of the Sixties are painted under a timeline of the decade.

This play, although featuring cute numbers choreographed by Lisa Otterstetter, may not be suitable for young children as it includes profanity and many adult themes. However, teenagers and adults will surely be mesmerized by the production; it captures the spirit and power of the original Children of the Revolution. This is Harrington's second to last play after directing 95 shows, and concerning the end of his journey as a director he said, "This is a show that means a lot to me because it's a goodbye to my youth...[With this play] We would like to pay tribute and honor all veterans for Veteran's Day."

Tickets are $5 presale and $8 at the door. Tickets can be purchased by calling (510) 818-4451 or at THE BOOK END at 5678 Thornton Ave., Newark.

"The Age of the Aquarius"
Written and directed by Steve Harrington
Fridays and Saturdays: November 6, 7, 13, 14, 20 & 21
8 p.m.
Newark Memorial Theater
39375 Cedar Blvd, Newark
(510) 818-4451

$5 presale; $8 at the door

Advance tickets also available at:
5678 Thornton Ave., Newark
(510) 797-4100

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