Recommended *** The 60’s were a wild time in the lives of our young men, who were fearful of being drafted, sent to VietNam and dying. After all, this was the “Age of Aquarious”- a time of drug experimentation and of cours, free love. “Hair” with a book by Gerome Ragni and James Rado who alos write the lyrics to the music created by Galt MacDermot, was in fact a sign of the times. A “Rock Musical/opera” well before its time and one that despite its length is still enjoyable and somewhat historical.
In a new production, a somewhat re-imagined production of “hair” is now onstage at American Theater Company’s warehouse type theater, which in many ways is very fitting for this type of show ( just as it worked well with “rent” several seasons ago). Directed by PJ Paparelli, this intimate space truly makes the audience feel more as if they were there ( like the expression we always hear about major times and era, ” I was there!”).
This production is a bit longer than most of those we see and while the two main characters, Berger ( a strong portrayal by Sky Seals) and Claude ( deftly handled by Zach Kenney) are close to what one would expect, it is the ensemble that truly makes this antiquated piece work. In this production, Sheila ( the adorable Ella Raymont, who bares it all) is more of a person than in most other productions and the fact that she loves everyone and has no fear, we find ourselves caring about her and hoping that somewhere she will take the right steps and have a normal life.
Most everyone knows that “Hair” is about the Hippie days, the anti-war movement, the anti-political movement, the free speech and free sex movement and of course, drugs!. The setting is New York and we spend most of our time in a loft that is inhabited by the entire cast. There is not much in the way of set pieces but where they have mattresses and a tower of wood ( designed by Keith Pitts) with some eerie lighting ( Brian Hoahne) and costumes (Brittany Dee Bodley) with sound (Steven Yaussi) to complete the overall picture of a bunch of free loving, happy go lucky hippies who are faced with whether to make love or make war. They choose LOVE!.
Mikey Rioux is the choreographer in this production which in fact is more choreographed then directed and the fight choreography is by Paul Dennhardt. The cast was body miked ( or at least some) and there were spurts of extra sound as solos were started. Other wise, the band ( Greg Woods, John Lauler,Sam Brownson and Matt Roberts, never over powered the voices of the ensemble members who truly made the music seem almost new ( even though I remember it from the time).
ATC is an Ensemble theater so it is only fitting that the ensemble shines: Christian Libonati, Aaron Holland, Mary Hollis Imboden, Camille Robinosn, Rachel Smith, Liz Bollar, Candace Edwards, Gregory Geffrard, Jason Kellerman, Cassandra Nelson, Travis Porchia, Matt Thinnes, Brandon Greenhouse,Rob Izzo, Max DeTongne and a special appearance by Ms jane Strauss ( who will “knocker” you over) and Chris Nugent. Solid voices, well acted. In fact, if the show wasn’t so long, it probably would have been another star added, but this is in fact a show that deserves to be seen; a lesson for the young audiences and a reminder for those of my era- this was one of the first plays that had four letter words and nudity and while there is still some nudity, it is not there for “shock”- it is there because that is how we were!
“Hair” will continue at American Theater Company’s space located at 1909 West Byron ( at Lincoln Ave) thru June 29th with performances as follows:
Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 2 p.m.
Tickets range from $38-$43 and are available by calling 773-409-4125 or online at www.atcweb.org
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Hair”
|hu, May 22:||8:00p|
|Fri, May 23:||8:00pm|
|Sat, May 24:||2:00pm & 8:00pm|
|Sun, May 25:||2:00pm|
|Thu, May 29:||8:00pm|
|Fri, May 30:||8:00pm|
|Sat, May 31:||2:00pm & 8:00pm|
|Sun, Jun 1:||2:00pm|
|Thu, Jun 5:||8:00pm|
|Fri, Jun 6:||8:00pm|
|Sat, Jun 7:||2:00pm & 8:00pm|
|Sun, Jun 8:||2:00pm|
|Thu, Jun 12:||8:00pm|
|Fri, Jun 13:||8:00pm|
|Sat, Jun 14:||2:00pm & 8:00pm|
|Sun, Jun 15:||2:00pm|
|Thu, Jun 19:||8:00pm|
|Fri, Jun 20:||8:00pm|
|Sat, Jun 21:||2:00pm & 8:00pm|
|Sun, Jun 22:||2:00pm|
|Thu, Jun 26:||8:00pm|
|Fri, Jun 27:||8:00pm|
|Sat, Jun 28:||2:00pm & 8:00pm|
|Sun, Jun 29:||2:00pm|