Wednesday, June 8, 2011

National Tour: Hair (4 reviews)

The National tour of the Broadway revival of Hair opened at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on May 31, 2011.
The Public Theater's new 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. Featuring 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.
Diane Paulus Directed a cast that included Caren Lyn Tackett, Steel Burkhardt , Paris Remillard, Phyre Hawkins, Darius Nichols, Kacie Shiek, Cailan Rose, and Josh Lamon.  Choreography by Karole Armitage.

Beau Higgins reviewed for
The direction of this production of HAIR by Diane Paulus and the choreography by Karole Armitage keep this "new" HAIR alive, moving, and bursting with life. HAIR is dangerously close to being creaky and frayed at The Edges. Fear not. The "creatives" and the exuberant cast make this HAIR one to love and one you will want to revisit as often as you can.
Galt MacDermot's music still enchants us and often, makes us feel decades younger... It is the book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado that are of chief concern with any production of HAIR. The opening song tells us we are in the age of Aquarius. I am not sure if we still are. Was the age of Aquarius something that took place in the 1960s and is gone forever? I don't know. I also don't know if young theatergoers will know what a hippie is or was and I'm not sure if they will get swept up in the joy of this show.
Steel Burkhardt as Berger and Paris Remillard as Claude are vocally gifted, easy on the eyes, and lead this tribe and this show as though they were longtime veterans of the musical theater. They are great.
Laura Souto Laramee attended on behalf of the Palm Beach Post:
For those of us 40-somethings out there, the nostalgic symbols and catchy tunes of “Aquarius” and “Good Morning Starshine” catch in the mind. The brilliant cast shows its love throughout the night wearing peace symbols, beads — or in many cases, very little.
Paris Remillard’s performance of “Manchester England” as Claude made one begin to realize that the full cast would be amazing. Of course there is the charismatic Berger, played by Steel Burkhardt — a star exuding ultra positive “Zen” energy.

Honestly, there are too many wonderful moments to mention during the first act but the scene many in the crowd enjoyed most is the performance of the title track, sung by Claude, Berger and Tribe (entire cast). The most provocative moment is, of course, at the end of Act 1 just before intermission where the 20-second nude scene occurs.
J.W. Arnold reviewed for South Florida Gay News:
Clothing, hairstyles, and music may change with the passing of each generation, but the angst of youth remains constant. This was my realization while watching Hair, the touring production that recently transferred to the Broward Center after a week-long run at Miami’s Arsht Center.
Allison Guinn and Josh Lamon deliver hilarious takes as Claude’s nerdy parents and Lamon follows up with a gender-bending visit from “Margaret Mead,” who grants her approval to the tribe’s countercultural ways. The cast is rounded out by a dozen other talented performers who gyrate and glide through an abundance of simulated sex scenes and eventually take it all off. Singing and dancing apparently weren’t the only requirements to get cast in this show and I’ll leave it at that.
Under Diane Paulus’ direction, this production, which first wowed Broadway crowds and earned a 2009 Tony for best revival, is exuberant and downright boisterous as the cast sings about “Hashish” and “Sodomy” and the virtues of “Black Boys” and “White Boys.” Choreographer Karole Armitage stages energetic numbers that take the cast into the audience frequently as they alternately celebrate sex and drugs and protest the constrictions of proper society and later the despised Vietnam War.
Consider this: The members of the tribe would be in their sixties today, eligible for Social Security and Medicare and all the other establishment institutions they once reviled. Their grandchildren, the statistics tell us, are still experimenting with sex and drugs. Marijuana is practically legal in many states. And, while those grandchildren are more likely to express themselves through text messages and Facebook posts, instead of signs and graffiti, many of them protest an unpopular war that is sending their friends to their deaths.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Now at Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and bound for the Broward Center next week, the Tony Award-winning revival of Hair serves as a boisterous, in-your-face kickoff to a summer that hopefully will be filled with more peace and love than conflict and hurricanes. As staged by hot director Diane Paulus and choreographer Karole Armitage, Hair is faithful to its concept-musical roots. In other words, the show is more thrilling vintage concert than a piece that bothers with a strong start-to-finish story.
What Hair has in abundance are infectious, well-known songs performed by a handsome cast with great voices. So what’s not to like?

Not much, unless you’re one of those interactive theater phobics who gets nervous when the fourth wall comes crashing down. That happens a lot in Hair, so if you’re in an aisle seat near the front of the orchestra section, be prepared.
With conductor-keyboard player David Truskinoff and a tight, fabulous band delivering concert-level music, the strong actor-singers work their way through a score immortalized on the show’s hugely successful original-cast album.
Though not for today’s actual kiddies — the cast stands proud and naked at the end of the first act, much of Armitage’s choreography is baldly sexual, and there is that song titled SodomyHair, for anyone else, is no mere blast from the past. It’s a blast, period.
The National Tour of Hair plays at the  Broward Center  through June 19.

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