The Summer of Love – 1967 – was the peak of the Haight-Asbury experience – when over 100,000 youth descended upon this San Francisco neighborhood to spread the message of love, peace and brotherhood in a time of great turmoil and frustration over the Vietnam War and the established culture of the day. This counterculture movement gave the world flower power, free love and open lifestyles. In the midst of the Vietnam War many believed that a new outlook was necessary; one that involved love and happiness, not guns and violence. The hippie movement was a phenomenon that swept the nation and included psychedelic drug use, heavy rock music, anti-establishment ideals, sexual freedom and the rejection of American commercialism and materialism.
The mainstream media's coverage of hippie life in the Haight-Ashbury drew the attention of youth from all over America, as the activities in the area were reported almost daily in city newspapers across the nation. The July 7, 1967, Time Magazine cover story on "The Hippies: Philosophy of a Subculture" and an August CBS News television report on "The Hippie Temptation,” added to the enormous national attention and helped to fuel the counterculture movement across the country and around the world.
As the neighborhood's fame reached its peak, it became the haven for a number of psychedelic rock performers and groups starting out at the time including Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin, who lived in the neighborhood. These local bands and performers immortalized the scene in song and lived within the community as friends and family. During the "Summer of Love," psychedelic rock music was entering the mainstream, receiving more and more commercial radio airplay. The Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967 was another catalyst for the hippie movement. It attracted 60,000 people and the national media, bringing heightened attention to the local Haight bands, shooting them to stardom. The song “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” by the Mamas and the Papas was designed to promote the festival and became a top hit single that summer.
This time of riotous politics, creative expression and amazing music is the subject of Roger Bean’s latest musical, Summer of Love. He grew up listening to his mother sing Mama Cass songs around the house and was familiar with the music of the era, but not where the music was coming from and what it was dealing with at the time. He decided to write a musical about the issues and motivations behind the music of the 60s and the people who came from conservative backgrounds and flocked to San Francisco to discover a new way of living.
Summer of Love had its world premiere on the west coast at the Long Beach regional theatre, Musical Theatre West in April 2011. The Ogunquit Playhouse is proud to present the east coast premiere, with a stellar cast including the beautiful and talented Michele Lee and a top notch design team. Choreographer Lee Martino just wrapped up the west coast premiere of Summer of Love and just won her fourth Los Angeles Ovation Award for Carousel; Set Designer, Michael Carnahan whose works include both the west coast premiere and the Ogunquit Playhouse production of Summer of Love, just received a Tony Award nomination for Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson as part of the production design team and is currently represented on Broadway in The Importance of Being Ernest; Costume Designer, Bobby Pearce has created the costumes for the Ogunquit production of Summer of Love, and was nominated for a Tony Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award for Broadway’s Taboo - his celebrity client list is a who’s who of Broadway divas, including: Bebe Neuwirth, Faith Prince, Madeline Kahn, Elizabeth Ashley, Cyd Charisse, Glenn Close, Leslie Uggams and Gwen Verdon. Also joining the creative team is Jeffrey Cady, production designer of SenovvA, the multi-media company for the Broadway production of American Idiot and the Academy Awards.
Summer of Love is still a work in progress! In this second incarnation of the show, as an audience member, you are part of a process that may see this musical make its way to New York, just as Roger Bean’s hit show, The Marvelous Wonderettes. Summer of Love features ten hippies who are part of a Haight-Ashbury “tribe,” a runaway bride and her jilted groom. Through the eyes of these hippies, the runaway bride discovers what she is running from and what she is looking for - she finds it in the music and with the hippies of Haight-Ashbury, like so many did in 1967.