Rick Lewis may not have grown up on '60s and '70s pop music, but he loves it. And now he's trying to show performers even younger than himself how to correctly perform such songs as the Hollies' "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother."
Lewis' 1970s revue, "Have a Nice Day!," debuted off-Broadway last year. This weekend, Full Moon Productions, which brought the show to Ventura in July, restages it in Simi Valley with the same professional cast who performed in Ventura.
Speaking recently from his home in Oregon, Lewis, 41, said he grew up in Ohio, the son of a Baptist minister so conservative that "when I was in high school, he threw my Carpenters' albums away. . . . But just because I wasn't able to listen to those songs at home, doesn't mean that I wasn't able to hear them at all."
His first two shows, "The Taffetas" and "The Cardigans," centered on female and male groups, respectively, of the '50s and '60s, and opened off-Broadway in the late '80s.
"Have a Nice Day!" parodies young troupes that toured in the '60s and '70s, including Up with People!, the Young Americans and Continentals. The clean-cut groups were organized with parents in mind, who might consider them to be musically and morally acceptable alternatives to the era's relatively raunchy rock 'n' roll bands.
"I find humor intrinsic in the show's innocence," Lewis said. "You can take it either seriously or ironically."
There's no dearth of material. One typical medley includes "You've Got a Friend," "Lean on Me," and "Bridge Over Troubled Water." And there's more.
"When I was first casting the original version of the show in New York," Lewis says, "I was looking at kids around 25 years old. Most had never heard the original versions--one of my greatest difficulties was explaining to them that those were the real lyrics. On 'MacArthur Park' we had to tell them, 'Trust us--this is going to work.' "
Many alumni of the actual groups have attended the show, Lewis notes. "They think it's a hoot."
* "Have a Nice Day" concludes Sunday at Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, 3050 Los Angeles Ave. Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15; $12, seniors and students; $8, children 12 and under. Group rates available. For reservations, call 581-9940.
'Jake's Women' in Santa Paula: Why is it that writers so often find writers to be prime subject matter for their writing? All writers do is write, right?
Neil Simon turns that to his advantage in "Jake's Women," playing at the Santa Paula Theater Center. Jake (Ronald Rezac), a writer, doesn't even leave his apartment. Instead, he dreams up conversations with several of the women in his life: his sister (Leslie Nichols); his analyst (Virginia Streat), his (dead) first wife (Kim Little); his (living) current wife (Mary Super); his new girlfriend (Jeanie Hayes), since his current marriage is in trouble; and his daughter as a pre-teenager (Erin Cariker) and as a young adult (Jennifer Leonardo). Occasionally, in his imagination, the women gang up on him. A few show up in person.
It was performed a bit stiffly last Friday night; perhaps director Gerald Castillo is showing that much of the dialogue originates in Jake's mind. And while there's humor here, this is Serious Simon, unlike, for instance, "The Odd Couple."
* "Jake's Women" continues through Oct. 26 at Santa Paula Theater Center, 125 S. 7th St. Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $12.50; $10, seniors and students; and $6, children 12 and under. For reservations, call 525- 445. Following its Santa Paula run, "Jake's Women" moves to the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center.