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Review: HAIR at DCA

The musical Hair is appropriately summed up by its full title: Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical. It is undeniably American in its focus on the anti-Vietnam War movement. It is tribal, both in the connotations of community and in the wild, animalistic release that is showcased onstage. It defined the genre of rock musicals when it was written in the 1960s. And it’s really all about love, and the kind of people who can’t help but using love to label something, just for good measure.

Hair Highlights Peaceful Protest On Stage For New Generation

HE SAID: In a world where the public is starting to stand up actively protest and stand up in masses to rally against various wrong-doings in the world, a play about the harsh time of war could not be more relevant. Granted, Hair is about a lot more than that. It’s about an era, the changing of the guard that happens with every generation, and a growth of spirituality that can lead people for better. There are connections to be made with this piece for people across the spectrum and whether or not you agree with any particular sentiment in the show or not, you can’t help walking out of the Buell without feeling a bit more love in the air.

SHE SAID: This production has a lot going for it: a lot of talent, a lot of heart, and those who loved the musical when it was first performed should really connect with this revival version. I think I might have slipped through the generations that most strongly identify with this musical. I heard the music enough growing up that it is familiar and pleasant to me, but it wasn’t introduced to me at an age where either the style or content of the songs could rock my world. With such a loose plot, that is strung together casually between songs, I didn’t get much more out of the experience than the collection of songs. Some of them were absolutely breathtaking! Some of them seemed dated, and I had a hard time making out the lyrics (and I mean, for some songs I could barely understand any of the words)! I’ve heard this is a common problem with the Buell, but I haven’t had this hard of a time understanding lyrics previously.

Hair Takes Tribal Spirit To Great Lengths

HE SAID:Two things really stood out to me about the actual production of this piece and they might seem weird. First, the use of the aisle in the audience orchestra can often times seem really forced. It’s a convention of expanding the stage’s world into the audience to make them feel more incorporated, while also occasionally solving blocking space issues. But with these larger shows it often feels unnecessary and rarely adds anything of significance. However, with the type of vibes that run throughout the show Hair, it felt perfectly natural and really drove the connection to the tribe. Second, often times audiences have strong inexplicably negative reactions to understudies, as if they assume understudies are automatically terrible. I hope the audience on the night we saw the show never have the reaction again, given there were 5 people playing alternate parts that night and they were wonderful!
SHE SAID: I agree with about the first piece — the audience members really loved it every time the tribe came out to dance with them, give them fliers, flowers, hugs. A few audience members got some tribe members standing directly over them (as in, with their feet on the two armrests, so that if they looked up…). I can imagine that might be mildly traumatizing for someone who isn’t expecting it, but everyone seemed to love it. I also agree that the understudies did a fabulous job. I will say that I did notice some of the tricky business that’s involved with using understudies who are currently in other leading roles, since rarely one person is spot on for both types. Matt DeAngelis, who played Berger when we were there, typically plays Woof, and I noticed a bit of a stretch when he was in as Berger. He brought a great energy and pleasant voice to the role, but he got a little winded during the more active numbers (I blame Denver!), making him seem a little old for the energetic, boyish youngster.

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Hair lets the sun (and the flowers, and the love) shine in

THEY SAID: There seems to be a lot of disagreement as to when the actual Aquarian Age began/will begin. Some it already started and we are in it now, others say in 2012, while others say it starts more at the end of the century. Regardless of where you come down on the issue, the dawning of the Age of Aquarius is full effect down at the Buell theatre. The tribe has shown up with all it’s flower power and brings with a psychedelic good time. That is to say, good time if you are into that kind of thing. Hair, even at it’s best (which it is here), is not for everyone. The plot is loose for some and some moments are just trippy. But at the end of the day, whether you find the story lacking or disagree with those darn hippies, there is so much love in that theatre, some of the music is so fun, that we found it hard to wipe the smiles off our faces.

For a full history and plot synopsis of Hair, see the wikipedia article. Hair plays through October 16 at the Buell Theater in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Click the banner above for tickets and more information.


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One thought on “Review: HAIR at DCA

  1. As one who saw Hair on the Sunset Strip in 1967 your review brought a very nice memory from long ago. Moving into the audience and nudity was very edgy for the time. Maybe that is why I like seeing theater that comes off the stage. Wish I lived nearer so I could see the production.

    Posted by Mark Cates | October 15, 2011, 5:50 pm

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