ATKINSON - The “Sizzling ‘60s” is a very appropriate
name for the musical revue now simmering at The Fireside
a company that consistently produces quality shows, this
display of talent and electricity dazzles us from start to
finish. Under the astute guidance of Ed Flesch, who both
composed and directed the show, varied music of the 1960s
captures the diversity and complexity of that decade.
Dan Embree, with his easy manner and impressive comic sense,
takes us on this incredible journey by alluding to various
historic events and major changes and trends, all reflected in
dress, lifestyle and the music of the times. What a trip, what
a happening - to use two phrases that gained popularity during
Ed Sullivan Show” was responsible for introducing many
musical groups and comedians of this period to a larger
audience. Most of us who have lived long enough will never
forget our introduction to The Beatles in 1964, a group who
heralded a new era. Their contribution was acknowledged in the
opening and closing numbers. “Hey, Jude” provided a
‘60s was a decade where such disparate groups as The Beach
Boys and The Doors could both be popular. It was a decade
where comedians as different as Alan Sherman and George Carlin
both had their ardent fans. It was a decade where Vietnam War
protests shared the headlines with love-ins, civil rights
parades and Woodstock.
was a decade where everything was questioned from religion to
politics, from gender roles to sexual practices from dress and
hairstyles to the use of recreational drugs.
became a vehicle for disseminating black music, and R&B,
blues and soul infiltrated American music forever. Bianca
Denis’ harrowing rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Natural
Woman,” made us shiver. Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and The
Supremes all shared the stoplight.
a quieter note, Simon and Garfunkel’s lyrics gave us pause
as Matthew Schwartz and his cohorts, Ned Donavan, JT McKenzie
and Jonathan Mouton, mellowed out on “Scarborough Fair”
and lifted our spirits with “Bridge over Troubled Water.”
Bob Dylan, Petula Clark and Dusty Springfield were also
Watts, ever a favorite with the Fireside crowd, left his hot
keyboard and directing duties at times to belt out The Rolling
Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and The
Doors’ “Light My Fire.” He is one entertainer.
rest of the big band, consisting of John Hibler and Curt
Hanrahan (woodwinds), Claude Cailliet (trombone), Nick Moran
(bass), David Wall (drums) and Joe Gorman (guitar), must be
credited for their zesty contribution to the whole. What a
talented cast of musicians.
other singers, Beth Mulkeron, a frequent performer in
Milwaukee, Lindsey Powell and Maggie McDowell, provided us
with tight harmonies and sultry solos and at times joined
their male counterparts with enhancing backups.
number of songs included in the show was legion. We were spun
around in time and space for almost two hours with a
repertoire which also included a series of themes from movies
such as “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “The Pink Panther”
and the composition from the James Bond 007 films.
Embree did a great deadpan take on Jackie Vernon, a frequent
guest on the “Ed Sullivan Show,” and Ned Donavan brought
Alan Sherman’s letters from Camp Grenada back to mind. It
must have been challenging to have to pick and choose from
such a rich heritage of happenings and sounds.
Ehlinger (music direction) and Doug Reed (choreography) should
also be mentioned.
you’ve never been to The Fireside, this might be the hour to
get in that car or on that bus and pay them a call. You
won’t regret it.
‘60s” runs through Feb. 24 with seven shows a week at the
Fireside Theatre, 1131 Janesville Ave., Fort Atkinson. For
show times and tickets, call 800-477-9505 or visit