The reviews are in for 1968 at the History Theatre

Enough happened in the United States in 1968 to fill both a museum and a theater in St. Paul.

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John Mitchell (E.J. Subkoviak) and Richard Nixon (Paul de Cordova) strategize about how to make Nixon the Republican nominee for president.

Photo: Scott Pakudaitis

To coincide with the Minnesota History Center’s exhibition “1968”, the History Theatre commissioned seven playwrights to create “1968: The Year that Rocked the World.”

Local critics find the show compelling, entertaining,and ultimately hopeful, albeit a bit long. Read on for excerpts of critics’ reviews; click on the links to read them in full.

From Renee Valois at the Pioneer Press:

How do you pack the violent, transformative, manifold and chaotic events of a watershed year into just a couple of hours of theater? History Theatre’s Ron Peluso decided to tap not one but seven writers in “1968: The Year That Rocked the World.”

Each creates an emotionally resonant miniplay that illuminates one key facet of the power-packed year, with the disparate pieces stitched together by snippets of music, quotes from popular TV shows and news stories of the day. It’s a compelling crazy-quilt of facts, memories and ideas that presents plenty of food for thought.

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Rosemary Clooney (Karen Weber) speaks with a nurse (Lynnea Monique Doublette) in a mental hospital where she has checked herself in to deal with her grief at losing Bobby Kennedy to an assassination.

Photo: Scott Pakudaitis

From Janet Preus at HowWasTheShow.com:

The scenes were ingeniously connected by a timeline created by History Theatre artistic director, Ron Peluso, who also directed. Music snippets from familiar TV shows, primarily, arranged and directed by Gary Rue and delivered by a talented band of McNally-Smith students, cemented the segues.

…Peluso’s work as the cohesive element was critical to the success and entertainment value of this show. He not only deftly incorporated a style of theater completely in keeping with the period, (with the ensemble in multiple arrangements on metal scaffolding) but he bridged the gaps and provided necessary light-hearted relief from the heavy drama of some of the scenes. His timeline really polished off the rough edges and pulled the idea into one whole.

From Graydon Royce at the Star Tribune:

The best historic drama lets us walk away with a strong idea that transcends mere images and information from our past. History Theatre’s “1968: The Year that Rocked the World,” largely an essay in glib nostalgia and ardent broccoli theater, redeems itself with just such a concept — proposing that humanity’s ability to persevere is eternal regardless of the agonizing dislocation within any single year.

Peluso lets this show go on far too long. But in the final breaths, as was the case in 1968, a message of hope carries a measure of redemption.

Have you seen “1968: The Year that Rocked the World?” If so, what did you think?

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