If you remember when Jimmy Carter was President of the United States and the Camp David Peace Accords were signed by Menachim Begin and Anwar Sadat, when the BeeGees were “Stayin” Alive,” when “Grease,” “Saturday Night Fever” and “Animal House” were the movies everybody wanted to see, when prime-time soap opera “Dallas” debuted on CBS, and when Ford recalled its Pintos due to exploding gas tanks, then you remember 1978. That was also the year that Navstar I, the first global positioning satellite, was launched, as well as the year the “Garfield” comic strip debuted, and Pete Rose got his 3,000th major league hit. And in local news, the first performance presented by Darke County Center for the Arts took place at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall in Greenville in 1978.
While considering shows appropriate for their 40th anniversary season, DCCA officials found a seemingly perfect match for their overall plan of honoring the past while embracing the future – “The Wonder Bread Years,” Pat Hazell’s field trip back in time to remember growing up during the baby boom years. Therefore, the comedian and former “Seinfeld” writer’s memories of a time when a child’s only responsibility was to get up, play, eat, and go back to sleep will be presented at St. Clair Memorial Hall on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. “The Wonder Bread Years” combines stand-up and theatre as well as audience involvement to humorously recall the food Hazell and his contemporaries ingested (remember Kellogg’s cereal Fun Pak, anyone?), the bleak vacation spots his family visited (have you been dragged for miles and miles to visit The Four Corners where states meet but nothing much else happens?), the toys everybody played with (Silly Putty, Slinky, and lawn darts), and much more.
Pat Hazell, who grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, says that when looking back at the most impactful moments of his life, the pendulum swings back and forth from career highlights to personal achievements. He ranks the birth of his children right up there with being one of the original “Seinfeld” writers, and finds his debut on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson as memorable as evacuating after Hurricane Katrina and finding safe haven in his current home of Austin, Texas. This sensibility of recognizing and honoring family events along with professional triumphs is undoubtedly a factor in Hazell’s ability to hilariously communicate the wonder of it all as he recalls TV commercials, classroom rituals, and wearing hand-me-downs, as well as the perceived shortcomings of his long-suffering parents.
Audiences of all ages can relate to the remembrances of what it was like to be a kid, regardless of the era in which one encountered the universal experience of growing up. You’ll probably recognize your own family in this funny, nostalgic trip down memory lane which Pat Hazell describes as “not Death of a Salesman.”
Tickets for “The Wonder Bread Years” are $20; students will be admitted for half price. To get your tickets now, contact DCCA at 937-547-0908 or [email protected]; tickets are also available online at www.darkecountyarts.org, and will be sold at the door if any remain by showtime.