SINGER, SONGWRITER AND actress Maureen McGovern was in the vanguard of the post-World War II baby boom.
As a young girl growing up in an Irish Catholic family in Ohio, she suffered under the harsh discipline of an overzealous nun, worshipped Roy Rogers and dreamed of being Penny, the niece of the dashing Sky King who commandeered the skies of 1950s televisionland.
And she sang – she always sang.
Eventually, the voice that has been likened to a Stradivarius violin earned her fame, and fortune – interspersed with a few broken hearts and some unglamorous gigs as a secretary for the purpose of paying the rent.
In her one woman show, “Carry It On,” running through April 22 at the Two River Theater in Red Bank, McGovern recounts the highs and lows of her life in the context of a time that can’t help but resonate with boomer audiences whose experiences paralleled those of McGovern’s – from the magic of that first transistor radio to the horror of the assassination of a president, from the inspiration of Martin Luther King to the simmering divide that split families into opposing factions during the Vietnam war.
Recounting her own battles with her father over Vietnam, McGovern speaks movingly in her performance about accompanying her Dad to Washington, D.C. for the dedication of the World War II Memorial, where she learned for the first time of his heroism during that war.
Conceived and written in collaboration with Phillip Himberg, McGovern’s performance offers a multitude of reminders of just how complex, exhilarating and dangerous this generational passage from the 1950s through the 1970s was.
Throughout the h90-minute show, McGovern and her accompanist and music director Jeffrey Harris, treat the audience to the music that spoke for a generation — Carole King, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Simon and Garfunkel — as well as those McGovern herself made famous.
Her first big hit was The Morning After which was the theme song for the disaster movie, Poseidon Adventure.
She also recorded the theme song for the movie Towering Inferno: “We May Never Love Like This Again,” which earned her the dubious title of “disaster theme queen.” A stint as the singing nun in the comic disaster film, “Airplane” capped her disaster movie career, and
McGovern went on to accumulate an impressive array of achievements in film, theater, concerts, television, radio and songwriting.
“Carry It On” continues at the Two River Theater through April 22. Show times and further info is available on the web at www.trtc.org.