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Hair
a Musical
CATEGORY : MUSICAL
by Book & Lyrics - Gerome Ragni & James Rado; Music - Galt MacDermot

COMPANY : Broadway Across America [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The Fabulous Fox [WEBSITE]
ID# 4024

SHOWING : May 17, 2011 - May 22, 2011

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

The Public Theater’s new Tony®-winning production of HAIR is the most electric celebration on Broadway! This exuberant musical about a group of young Americans searching for peace and love in a turbulent time has struck a resonant chord with audiences young and old. HAIR features an extraordinary cast and dozens of unforgettable songs, including “Aquarius,” “Let the Sun Shine In,” "Good Morning, Starshine" and “Easy To Be Hard.” Its relevance is UNDENIABLE. Its energy is UNBRIDLED. Its truth is UNWAVERING. It's HAIR , and IT'S TIME.


CAST & CREW LIST
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Past Its Prime
by Dedalus
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
3.0
Groovy, Far Out, and Outta Sight! Broadway Across America is bringing us a tour of the recent well-received Broadway revival of the ground-breaking 1968 tribal-love-rock-musical “Hair!” I’ve always been a fan of the show, 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 little problem here – Has Ms. Tharp’s eccentric and energetic choreography in the film ruined this play for anyone else’s dance vision? Certainly, for this production, I found the choreography flat and dull, which seemed to drain all the energy from the show for me, giving my mind ample opportunity to wander down all those “why this doesn’t work anymore” tracks.

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, but there are even more low points (an LSD sequence that takes forever and can probably be used by anti-drug groups to keep kids AWAY from acid, a gaggle of self-indulgent characters who seem allergic to any personal responsibility, 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 saw 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 lying around all day getting stoned” 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. To be honest, for this production, the distraction was minimized by the really REALLY dim lighting – so dim you couldn’t even tell anyone was naked. Still, I can think of at least a dozen more better-motivated moments in the show for spontaneous nakedness.

Many of these era-sensitive problems were exacerbated by the lackluster choreography. The “tribe” was filled to overflowing, packing the stage with more hippies than you can shake a flower at, and, for the most part, the choreography consisted of them clustering in a mega-group-hug mass, or simply gyrating in place. Even the exuberant leaps at the end of “I’ve got Life” came across as contrived and soul-less, simply because they were preceded by little movement. The dances that did exist evoked none of the style of the period, and simply seemed to consist of wiggle-the-butt and flail-the-arms gyration. Forays into the audience consisted solely of going up the house aisles in unison and more or less harassing the patrons with aisle seats. And I have to say that, after enjoying Twyla Tharp’s organically fluid staging of “Three-Five-Zero-Zero” in the movie – seeing it rendered as a “Let’s-All-Stand-In-a-Straight-Line-And-Sing” piece is just as dull and bland as PowerPoint presentation on statistics.

The singing here was, for the most part, spot on, with most of the ballads and solos filling the Fox with power and sincerity. Most of the soloists had a tendency to “scoop” into their big notes, so I suspect this was a stylistic choice of the music director – I found the device distracting but not necessarily fatal to my enjoyment. Indeed, the principals very capably delivered distinct performances, finding moments of individuality to lighten the heavy-handed sameness of the scripted characters. (The “Tribe” was not so memorable – they never gave me the feeling they were individuals or anything more than members of a Musical chorus.) Still, kudos to Steel Burkhardt’s charismatic (even when being a jerk) Berger, Paris Remillard’s looking-for-answers Claude, Caren Lyn Tackett’s angry and driven Sheila, and Kacie Sheik’s vulnerable and (very) pregnant Jeanie. Actually, my biggest problem with the cast was that all of them chose to fill their bios with new-agey “This is my sign” pretentiousness, with none of them listing any actually stage experience.

The show was staged on a unit set that evoked a junkyard hideaway more than a Central Park haven, but was suggestive enough to provide any number of interesting playing spaces, not to mention housing the wildly energetic band. Lighting was modern Broadway pull-out-the-stops razzle-dazzle (in other words, too “establishment” for my tastes), and the sound seemed to have an actual design, rather than the Fox’s usual make-their-ears-bleed pump-the-volume approach.

Still, all criticism aside, 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, possibly receding farther and farther into the future, it’s still good to be relive that idealism that only youth and tasting-freedom-for-the-first-time can provide.

With the weather being what it is these days, we don’t really need a trip to “Hair” to “Let the Sunshine In,” but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)


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It's Got Life
by playgoer
Saturday, May 28, 2011
4.0
I had never seen the stage musical "Hair" before attending it as part of the Broadway Across America season. I knew the music, of course. Even someone with me who had never listened to any of its albums was surprised at how many of the tunes were familiar. I had seen and enjoyed the movie soon after its premiere on cable TV many years ago, but that didn't prepare me for the stage show. "Hair" is FUNNY. I had no idea it was so loopy and charming and energetic, although I knew it had great popular appeal. Its appeal isn't just for hippies, though. It's good, idiosyncratic theatre.

Some of the action takes place in the audience, and that doesn't work particularly well in the two-tier Fox Theatre. One instance had a couple of cast members briefly in the balcony, but for the most part the audience upstairs missed out on whatever was happening in the house downstairs. Touring productions can't always cater to every theatre they play.

"Hair" is very much an ensemble show. There are two main male characters (originally played by the authors, Gerome Ragni and James Rado), but everyone else is secondary to the story, which boils down to this: Claude is drafted and doesn't know whether to burn his draft card or submit to the army physical. Paris Remillard played the role of Claude well, if somewhat passionlessly, and his long hair looked wiggy. Steel Burkhardt, on the other hand, seemed to be using his real hair (and everything else) as Berger, leader of a hippie "tribe." He seemed a tad old, though, for the sequence in which he was expelled from school.

Allison Guin and Josh Lamon, playing a variety of adult roles, took the acting awards in the show with their versatility, although I could have done without them attired as hippies in unnecessary double-casting. In addition, I thoroughly enjoyed the performances of Kacie Sheik as the pregnant Jeanie and Matt DeAngelis as Woof, a homoerotically inclined tribe member. They both brought energy and quirkiness to their roles. That's what all the roles require.

I was disappointed in two of the female performers. Kaitlin Kiyan, as Crissy, chose to belt "Frank Mills" in the manner befitting a musical comedy major. A smaller, quieter performance would have been much more effective. Caren Lyn Tackett, as Sheila, came across as strident and unpleasant, so there was no sympathy for her during a couple of the big numbers in act two.

Act one of the show is much stronger than act two. The first act tells most of the story, while the second act is devoted to a long hallucination and the denouement of the story. The nudity in the show I found to be totally gratuitous. Act one ends with Claude singing an introspective number ("Where Do I Go?") in a spotlight while the tribe members strip in an underlit section of the stage. Perhaps these are supposed to be hippies participating in a Be-In, but that's not what came across. These were actors pulling their clothes off and standing in a choreographed group, brazenly staring at the audience. It did not mesh with the storyline at all.

The program of the production is filled with hippie-style biographies that give the actors' astrological signs and include shout-outs to friends and family. It's hard to tell what previous credits they have had. It certainly gives an ensemble feel to the production and feeds into the notion that this show is a "happening," but I found it a bit jokey. This is a professional production, but it seems to want to be something less. Its minimal set (discarded carpets on the floor; an old truck and scaffolding) holds a sizable band, and the large cast is sometimes carefully choreographed to look unchoreographed. It's a mixture of professionalism and unfettered zaniness that doesn't always work, but always entertains. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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