Turn on, tune in, drop out…
The turbulent summer of 1969 in the United States provides the backdrop for the latest musical from Queenstown director Margaret O’Hanlon.
California Dreaming sees a cast of 16 perform 21 classic numbers from the flower power age, set amid a story of political and social unrest.
O’Hanlon says: “The music from that era is exceptional – The Doors, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Starship, and Hendrix.
“And it was a monumental year – beginning with Woodstock, then the Vietnam War protests and ending with the Altamont Free Concert.”
The full cast is (left to right): Charlotte Graf (Gloria), Jason Fullerton (Joe), Renata Rubini (Frida), Marty Newall (Charlie), Violet Lees (Angela, standing), Fi Stephenson (Squeaky), Tama Reedy (Angel), Alex Fraser (Hunter, in car), Alisa Williamson (Aponi), Lisa Moore (Judy), Sam Farr (Timmy), Jason Medina (Cesar, in car), Tiffany Menzies (Joni), Paul Halsted (Dodger), Pearly McGrath (Brigitte), and Sam Maxwell (Bobby).
Alex dreaming of 60s
Young singer Alex Fraser (right) takes on his second major acting role in new upcoming Queenstown production California Dreaming.
The 18-year-old Wakatipu High student plays Hunter – a character loosely based on ground-breaking gonzo journalist Hunter S Thompson and is no stranger to the stage.
Fraser, with covers band The Station Agents, opened for Creedence Clearwater Revisited at the 2011 Gibbston Valley summer concert – in front of about 15,000 fans.
But playing a character based on a hell-raising writer who rose to prominence in the 1960s in the spotlights of musical theatre is proving a different challenge.
Fraser says: “The difference is not having the security of the band around you.
“So much of what you do is on your own, and crucial to the storyline, and with the smaller audience you have to make sure that everything is perfect because they notice it a lot more.
“It’s acting and there’s also a lot more dancing than in a band.”
Fraser’s character performs California Girls by The Beach Boys and Touch Me by The Doors during the show.
“He’s an incredible character. I’ve been watching heaps of movies and reading all his books to try and get a little more into character.
“It’s his quirkiness and he’s straight up the way he says what he thinks and strives for what he believes in. He’s a vigilante.”
Fraser will duet on Touch Me with fellow Wakatipu High student Sam Maxwell.
Both teens starred together earlier this year in Wakatipu High musical Footloose, where they were spotted by California Dreaming director Margaret O’Hanlon.
O’Hanlon says Fraser played an adult in Footloose and caught her eye.
“Here’s an 18-year-old playing a 35-year-old man and it’s a very difficult thing to do – he’s very instinctive.”
O’Hanlon’s latest production focuses on one of the most turbulent years in American history – the summer of ’69, year of Woodstock, Vietnam War protests and the moon landing. It features 16 Queenstowners performing 21 numbers.
California Dreaming, The summer of ’69, brings rock ‘n’ roll history to Arrowtown Athenaeum Hall on October 4,5 and 6, at 8pm. Tickets are $40.