Louise Rostrun, the writer-director of Baby Boomers the Musical, had one excellent qualification for such an ambitious, generation-spanning task.
"I'm a baby boomer – I was born right in the middle of the period. I'm 61 now, I was born in 1954."
So Rostrun remembered much of the time covered by the musical revue, opening at Teatro Vivaldi on December 10. So much happened in Australia over that time, she said, that it was impossible to cover everything, but she did what she could to hit many of the important social, historical and musical high spots of the era. The show is brought to life by a cast of eight under the musical direction of Matt Webster.
There's a song about the introduction of the pill, written in the style of an advertising jingle, for example, and a skit about British model Jean Shrimpton's then scandalous 1965 appearance at the Melbourne Cup in a miniskirt with no stockings, hat or gloves.
"It's the most conservative dress – it's just above the knees."
Speaking of clothes, she also has a song called Middle Class Hippies about the many children of the 1970s who, like her, "weren't actually hippies – we just dressed like it."
She pays tribute to the introduction of television in Australia in 1956, the seminal Australian drama Number 96 and the arrival of The Beatles in this country in 1964.
"That was highly significant – we were allowed to watch them on TV in the morning. My parents must have loved them too."
Women's liberation, the Vietnam War, The Seekers, growing up in suburbia, Johnny O'Keefe – they're all here, one way or another. And sometimes inspiration came from strange quarters.
"I was in Sydney about 10 years ago and I saw a red sports car with an ageing baby boomer driving and the licence plate was HIBABY – I thought, 'Oh no!' and I put that in the show. It was like he stepped out of the 1950s."
She used Dion's song The Wanderer to capture the moment.
Rostrun was inspired to create Baby Boomers when she appeared in Pack Up Your Troubles in 2005, another locally produced and written musical that ended with prime minister Ben Chifley announcing the end of World War II.
"I thought, 'Wouldn't it be good to start a new musical with the same ending?"'
Rostrun had been involved in musical theatre for four decades. mostly as a performer, and had grown up in a musical family in Sydney, where her father Ron had been a member of the musical group The Mellotones. Baby Boomers, a mixture of original songs, hits of the era and skits and narration as well as photos and film clips, premiered in 2008 and now reappears in a revised version, tightened and slightly rewritten with a new original song, Baby You Can't Retire, recognising the phenomenon of baby boomers who are returning to, or staying in, work.
Baby Boomers the Musical is on at Teatro Vivaldi, ANU Arts Centre on December 10 to 12 and 16 to 19 at 6.30pm with a high tea performance on December 12 at 2pm. Bookings: 62572718.