SUBMIT ABOUT FAQ
PEOPLE COMPANIES VENUES
LOGIN NEW USER PRODUCTIONS
REVIEWERS SIX DEGREES
A User-Driven Site for Theater in Atlanta, Georgia
HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical

a Musical
CATEGORY : MUSICAL
by James Rado & Gerome Ragni (Book); Galt Macdermot (Music)

COMPANY : 7 Stages [WEBSITE]
VENUE : 7 Stages [WEBSITE]
ID# 3521

SHOWING : September 11, 2009 - October 10, 2009

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Just in time to lead America into a momentous new dawn, the groovy, druggy, glowing, flowing, wonderful world of Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical comes to the 7 Stages’ Mainstage. A festival of love, a revolution of freedom, and an impassioned call for hope and change, Hair features some of the most beloved songs in theater.
Includes nudity


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Del Hamilton
Choreographer Hylan Scott
Dionne Dorothy V Bell
Ronny Fracena Byrd
Theo Theodus X. Crane II
Crissy Christie Fisher
Herbert/Dad Doug Graham
Sheila Naomi Lavender
Hud Chris Love
Woof Jason Royal
Jeanie Jenna Tamisiea
Berger Warren E. Ullom IV
Margaret Mead/Mom Christine Verderese
Claude Jacob Wood
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

Too Many Split Ends
by Dedalus
Thursday, October 1, 2009
3.5
Groovy, Far Out, and Outa Sight! 7 Stages is bringing back the ground-breaking 1968 tribal-love-rock-musical “Hair!” I’ve always been a fan of its songs, its high spirits, and its break-the-fourth-wall free-flowing style. I was a huge fan of its 1979 movie adaptation. And that presents a second Twyla-Tharp-induced failure-to-meet-expectations response in as many days. This time, it’s made worse by a not-nearly-good-enough performance in one role, and a singularly dry and play-it-safe staging.

And, let’s be honest here, what was “ground-breaking” in 1968 has become overdone to the point of triteness by now. The show has not aged well at all. Granted, there are some excellent high points (“I Got Life,” the opening, the ending, “Air,” “Frank Mills”), but there are even more low points (an off-key “Donna,” an LSD sequence that takes forever and can probably be used by anti-drug groups to keep kids AWAY from acid, a post-ending “come and dance with us on stage” that’s just as irritating here as it was in “Menopause” – and you know a show hasn’t aged well when it gets compared to the likes of “Menopause”).

Let me just touch on a few other things that haven’t aged well. The original “Do your own thing” vibe that permeated a lot of the hippie culture, now comes across as more “Do your own thing as long as it’s the same as ours.” Since 1968, “countercultures” have proliferated with the wild abandon of evolutionary microbes. The anti-establishment milieu on display here is only one of many various subcultures that capture the attention of the young and the idealistic, and it makes all the characters disturbingly alike. While the personal journey of Claude is still compelling (and the driving force of the plot), the movie made the absolutely brilliant choice of making him a true outsider. In that case, we see the “tribe” through his eyes, and it made his acceptance of them (and their acceptance of him) so much more dramatically compelling than the “view from the inside” look the play offers. Here, I got the feeling “my thing is not dancing” would not be an acceptable reaction.

Another thing is the infamous nude scene at the close of Act One. In 1968, it was indeed daring and vivid. We’ve now been jaded by so much on-stage freedom and on-line pornography that its unmotivated from-left-field nature is fully apparent. It’s not shocking now so much as distracting. Although, it must be noted, (and I hope this doesn’t come across as too cruel) some of the cast had bodies many would not necessarily consider worthy of exposure; here, though, everyone played the scene with so much self-confidence and compassion, that everyone was beautiful to look at, and not necessarily in an unerotic art-class appreciation way. It drove home the idea that beauty (and attraction) is more defined by the attitude than the physicality on display.

Many of these era-sensitive problems were exacerbated by the staging. All the cast wore the appropriately period clothes and attitudes, but it was staged as if it were occurring now, on this stage, with this audience (tattoos on some of the cast members did not help). Expensive-looking carpets were arrayed artistically across the stage so the cast wouldn’t have to sit on the bare floor, I suppose, and a few “bunk-bed” style structures evoked no sense of place or function. Forays into the audience consisted solely of going up the house aisles in unison and more or less harrassing the patrons with aisle seats. And all the choreography came across as just that – highly structured dance steps devoid of any improvisatory flourish or flight of fancy. This was not youthful abandon but tightly controlled artifice. The only exception was the aforementioned “I Got Life,” which ended on a compulsively exuberant series of leaps that joyfully transcended their obvious choreographic control.

All of the ballads were performed by the singers standing stock-still in tight pools of light, so they depended solely on the performers’ charisma and talent. Fortunately, here is where the production did not lack. Naomi Lavendar’s “Easy to Be Hard,” Christie Lee Fisher’s “Frank Mills,” and Jacob Wood’s “Where Do I Go” were all musical highlights for me, and showcased these singer’s wide range of talent and emotional drive, Jenna Tamisiea also impressed with her full-voiced “Air” and stratospheric solo in the Hare Krishna sequence.

In fact, the only performer who disappointed was the central character of Berger (Warren E. Ulom III), who had problems with both pitch and volume (well, he wasn’t alone there – the singers were often overwhelmed by the band and the feedback – this was not a well-mixed sound design). Mr. Ulom was also a little short on charisma, coming across like just a selfish jerk – I had problems believing anyone would follow him anywhere, let alone coalesce a “tribe” around him.

Still, the songs have the same power they always had, the portrait of youthful idealism tempered by painful (possibly fatal) choices is still relevant, and the show itself is much redeemed by the stunning “Let the Sunshine In” finale. If the curtain call is an irritating subversion of that powerful ending, I have no problems forgiving it. We have a group of performers here who possess the talent and energy to sell the songs (if not all the plot and philosophy) .

In spite of the creaks and cracks that forty years have added to the show, it’s still a pleasant wallow in the songs and ideals of (some of) our youths. If the intervening years have shown that the Age of Aquarius is yet to come, that “yet to come” may actually be today.

With the weather being what it is these days, now, more than ever, a trip to “Hair” will Let the Sunshine In!

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)


[POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

OPENING SOON
Midnight at the Masquerade
by The Murder Mystery Company
The Murder Mystery Company in Atlanta
CLOSING SOON
"Fallout"
by Laura King
Onion Man Productions
Glengarry Glen Ross
by David Mamet
Pinch n' Ouch Theatre
Shakespeare in Love
by Lee Hall, based on work by Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard
Alliance Theatre Company
NOW PLAYING
"Fallout"
by Laura King
Onion Man Productions
August: Osage County
by Tracy Letts
Lionheart Theatre Company
Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
by Rajiv Joseph
7 Stages
Glengarry Glen Ross
by David Mamet
Pinch n' Ouch Theatre
Midnight at the Masquerade
by The Murder Mystery Company
The Murder Mystery Company in Atlanta
Shakespeare in Love
by Lee Hall, based on work by Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard
Alliance Theatre Company
The Dixie Swim Club
by Jesse Jones, Nicholas Hope, Jamie Wooten
Onstage Atlanta, Inc.
The Glass Menagerie
by Tennessee WIlliams
Actors Theatre of Atlanta
The Spy Who Murdered Me
by Kevin Gillese
Agathas: A Taste of Mystery
Throw Me on the Burnpile and Light Me Up
by Lucy Alibar
Aurora Theatre

©2012 TheaterReview.com. All rights reserved.