Jul 06, 2010
Two weekends ago I was spun back in time to the 1960s, a time of
great upheavel for young Americans on the cusp of individuality and
maturity; and, a time of great music. The Egyptian Theatre Company
had opened it's presentation of the 1968 Broadway musical Hair on
June 25 to a near sold-out performance that was sponsored by
QSaltLake. This production of the "American Tribal Love-Rock Musical"
is wonderfully and gayly depicted by director Jerry Rapier, who says,
"Hair isn't really about hippies, nudity, drugs or sex. It's about
finding one's place, eliminating extremes and discarding labels … ".
It most definitely discards labels; Rapier really gays-it-up in this
production: In multiple scenes, homosexual proclivity takes "center
stage," if you will. But really, Hair combs through the insecurities,
fears and hopes of a "tribe" of bohemian hippies who spend their days
in Central Park smoking marijuana, dropping hallucinogens and
participating in the anti-Vietnam War movement.
The characters' plights are universal, to an extent, to modern day
issues that young adults face from romantic entanglements within
the tribe: "I'm hung up on Claude, Sheila's hung up on Berger, Berger
is hung up everywhere. Claude is hung up on a cross over Sheila and
Berger," says Jeannie, a naive, pregnant tribal member, to Claude's
the central character struggle with joining in the war or burning
his draft card, or just giving up completely: "I can't take this
moment to moment living on the streets … I know what I want to be … invisible."
The central theme of Hair is as heavy-hearted, and perhaps sometimes
even as discouraging as reality. But it's a musical, and musicals are
meant to be fun and invigorating. Not only does Rapier accomplish
this task, the entire cast does as well. Seth Barney, who plays
Berger, the crude and sexually driven free spirit, is comically
boisterous; Fred Sherman Lee's portrayal of Claude is charismatic,
leaving … well at least the QSaltLake audience members eager for the
"full monty" scene. Deena Marie Manzanares is gorgeous on stage; and
though it felt, at times that opening night, like she was struggling
with her vocals, especially in "The Flesh Failures" number with Lee
and the amazing songstress Kandyce Marie Gabrielsen (Dionne), she is
an absolute pleasure to watch. Alyssa M. Simmons (Jeanie), Timothy
Letheic Goins (Hud) and David Holmes (Woof) are strong, symmetrical
components to the show I particularly enjoyed Holmes' fawning over
a Mick Jagger poster. Nathan Shaw and Luke Monday steal the show
though, at the end of Act I, with their portrayal of married tourists
who come into contact with the tribe.
Musical director David Evanoff and choreographer David Holmes
culminate rock-driven songs and beautifully loose, freeing dance
numbers. The musical numbers in Act I, opening with the "Age of
Aquarius," is a bit tame compared to the emotionally driven second
act. Civil disobedience erupts in "Abie Baby;" The war-torn "3-5-0-0"
rips through your body like a bullet; the poetic version of
Shakespeare's "What A Piece of Work is Man" is moving Lauren Noll's
performance of this song is her pinnacle moment in the show, and it
is absolutely memorable.
The psychedelic Central Park set design by Peter Mayhew could use a
stronger dose of tracer-inducers, but sometimes you just get the
slightly bunk stuff. Heidi Calwell Ortega's costumes are apropos to
the 1960's hippie era: headbands, feathers, bell bottoms, fringed vests, etc.
Hair is not receding, and it may never be. But however long that
remains true, this musical sends messages of hope for brighter
futures and the strength of familial bonds.
Hair is in style through July 25, Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.,
Park City. Tickets are $22, 435-649-9371 or parkcityshows.com.
Rock musical message remains relevant
By Joanne Fox - firstname.lastname@example.org
July 8, 2010
They may not have lived it, but Kayla Lamoureux, Collin O'Connor and
Matt Walker believe that more than 40 years after a rock musical
preached "Make Love, Not War," that slogan still resonates.
The three young adults portray the three principal characters in
"Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical," the next show by Shot
in the Dark Productions which opens tonight.
"The musical may not have a contemporary feel to it today,"
acknowledged O'Connor, who portrays Berger, "but I think the message
still speaks to a lot of people today."
"We didn't get to live that time, so it's been a totally different
experience to immerse ourselves in that culture," added Walker, the
Claude character. "It's been so far outside the box for us."
"My mom (Cindy) lived it," clarified Lamoureux, who plays Claude's
love interest, Sheila. "I listened to a lot of her stories growing up
and I loved to hear her talk about it."
"Hair" is about a group of young people in New York City's East
Village who band together as a "Tribe." They are the New York
contingent of flower children, a movement that had begun in
Haight-Ashbury and San Francisco. Claude, (Walker), his good friend
Berger (O'Connor), their roommate Sheila (Lamoureux) and their
friends struggle to balance their youthfulness and the sexual
revolution with their rebellion against the war and society.
With book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni and music by Galt
MacDermot, the musical opened in 1968 and ran for 1,750 performances.
The show embraced the concept of young people at that time
questioning authority, society, and specifically, the war in Vietnam.
Because their point of reference was mostly what they had heard or
read about that time, the three actors researched the movement that
stressed peace, freedom and happiness.
"I was surprised at how correct the musical portrayed the hippie
lifestyle," Walker, 21, said, after looking into that time frame. "It
helped me to better understand the Flower Power and Tribe Power and
where those ideas came from."
"It made me wish I had hair like this," O'Connor, 20, said, twisting
the curls that were attached to his bandana, as the others laughed out loud.
Lamoureux, 21, pulled double duty on the production, also serving as
"I had to understand how people really moved back then," she said.
"It may look very free-form, but there really is structure to it."
There's also a great deal of politically incorrect material in this
show, including references to sexuality, race, and drug use.
"It's a very trust-related show," Walker said. "When you're saying
and doing things on stage that concern sensitive subject areas, you
have to trust the others on stage to be on the same level as you are."
"The material isn't in the show to shock the audience," O'Connor
pointed out. "Rather than pushing people's buttons on these topics, I
think the script speaks to the people about these issues."
"We use the audience a lot in the show to bring them into what's
happening," Lamoureux said. "There's no fourth wall that separates
them from us."
In 1979, capitalizing on the huge popularity of the musical, "Hair"
was made into a successful movie, starring Treat Williams. The stage
version and movie have little in common, stressed Joey Myers,
director of the show. For example, most of the music from the stage
production was cut or adjusted for the film.
"Hippies truly believed that everyone is equal, no matter what color
they are, or what religion, or what gender," she noted. "Hippies were
all about loving one another, and coming together as one, to live
peacefully and openly."
All three 20-something actors took part in show choir while attending
East High School. Lamoureux is a University of South Dakota graduate
and operates Rhythm Avenue Dance Academy. O'Connor and Walker have
been close friends since their days at East Middle School and both
attend Millikin University, Decatur, Ill.
"This is the first show in which we get to play opposite each other,"
Walker said. "We've never had that opportunity before."