Theatre Calgary’s BOOM YZ wraps up trilogy of political, musical and family history


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The noises that Rick Miller makes in Calgary are heard around the world.


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Back in 2014, Theatre Calgary presented Miller’s BOOM, his multimedia tribute to the Baby Boom generation, at the High Performance Rodeo.

The concept for the show was commissioned by The Stratford Festival but when there was a change in administration, Stratford no longer wanted it so Miller called TC’s then artistic director, Dennis Garnham, who agreed to present it first at High Performance Rodeo and subsequently as part of TC’s 2016 season.

In the ensuing seven years, BOOM, Miller’s tribute to music, politics, entertainment, culture, technology and defining world events, has racked up more than 400 performances worldwide, most recently in Taiwan.

In 2018 Miller, premiered a sequel, BOOM X, at Theatre Calgary and now he’s returned to complete his trilogy with BOOM YZ, which runs in the Arts Commons’ Max Bell Theatre until Nov. 7.


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“I feel very much at home in Calgary and especially at Theatre Calgary because of the faith they’ve had in me and BOOM,” says Miller, who points out that “my family is at the core of all three of these shows.”

Rick Miller is appearing in the final installment of Boom.
Rick Miller is appearing in the final installment of Boom. Photo by Michael Cooper /jpg

In BOOM, Miller told the story of the two men in his mother’s life and, in BOOM X, in addition to his wife and stepsister, he looked at the world through the eyes of one of his mentors and a friend. His daughter Vivian is the central character in BOOM YZ.

“What you see in each of the shows is that the Millers are just another family navigating the ups and downs, highs and lows, of the past 75 years.

“Vivian is 18. We’re in a car together and you’ll find out why, but only at the end of the show. We’re going to get glimpses of Vivian’s life and experiences. Among the 100 characters I play in this new 100-minute show are 12 millennium characters who offer their perspective on things.”


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Miller says he is using Vivian and the millennial characters “to help the older members of the audience understand this current generation’s perspectives and, hopefully, to take their concerns seriously.

“I want the generations to listen to each other. BOOM YZ is an inter-generational listening and learning experience.”

Miller’s BOOM and BOOM X were praised for their dazzling technical wizardry but he says they are far more than glitz and flash.

“Once again, there is nostalgia, spectacle and theatricality but there is also heart, humanity and humour. That’s why the shows have universal appeal.”

Miller is particularly excited that in BOOM YZ he gets to fly.

“I’m up in the air to represent how so many of us feel ungrounded and floating much of the time.


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“The other thing unique to BOOM YZ is an interactive element. There are three possible endings to the show. There are Utopian, Status Quo and Dystopian endings and the audience gets to vote on which one they want. At each performance, even I won’t know which ending we’ll have until the votes are counted.”

With the addition of BOOM YZ, Miller’s trilogy covers 75 years of world and family history. He envisions a time when the three shows will be available to be seen in succession or as one marathon viewing but they all stand on their own. “You don’t need to have seen BOOM or BOOM X to enjoy BOOM YZ. It is its own experience.

“What should be reassuring from these shows is that we do go in circles in life. This horrible moral panic we’re currently in is not something unique. We’ve been here before and we’ve triumphed.”

Miller says he has consciously been working to make BOOM YZ a unique experience, saying it’s what people deserve after 20 months “deprived of live theatrical experiences.”

Theatre Calgary’s presentation of BOOM YZ runs Tuesdays through Sundays in the Max Bell Theatre with evening shows at 7:30 p.m. and matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling 403-294-7447.



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