★★★☆☆ - Satisfying
Harken back to the mid-1960s – bell bottoms, love beads, drugs, and sit-ins. Without a doubt – if you’re of a certain age (as many of the audience members) - you’ll recall the title song from “Hair,” along with “Good Morning Sunshine.”
This musical has rocked around the globe, won awards, been turned into a film, and continues to roll through numerous productions. The multitudinous themes found in the show can boggle the mind; race, nudity, free love, and protests of almost anything you can think of. As directed by Troy Heard, this one found the heart of the book and lyrics: protesting the Viet Nam war.
Heard has a huge cast do somewhat of a murky and muddied preshow wandering, shuffling, gyrating, and singing pop songs of the era in the tiny studio venue at The Space where the production takes place. Then, he hits us with a stunning opening when Dominique Stewart gives a spine-tingling version of “Aquarius.” But, sadly, that’s pretty much the only real number she gets.
There isn’t much of a script to “Hair.” It’s a few lines between songs. The gist is Berger (Richie Villafuerte) leads a conclave of hippies in New York City. Best friend Claude (Bobby Lang) is torn between remaining true to the life touted by his friends (burning his draft card) or following pushy parents (Kristin Cooper and Bob Gratrix) and being inducted.
Villafuerte and Lang both do a credible job in their roles, though Lang really shines at the end of the play, and Villafuerte trooped on unfazed when not one, but two microphones failed him at the top of the show. The rest of what feels like a too-ginormous cast contains a couple standouts.
Marcus Carter brings great life to Woof, a gay youth obsessed with Mick Jagger. Carter easily melds into the ensemble, but never loses sight of his character. And, the voice coming out of this guy makes you wish the playwrights would’ve put more focus on fewer roles, just so Carter could bring his fun sense of naughtiness to the forefront more often.
There are some terrific voices in this cast, and most are hidden within the chorus. Jonathan Anders has one of them. When this young man gets sporadic bars to sing, you wish he’d been put into a more central role. Though, to be fair, the score doesn’t offer much solo work at all.
The entirety is staged in the round, and lines and (un-mic’ed) lyrics get lost when the actor isn’t facing in your direction. Even in this tiny venue, body mics would’ve been terrific if actors aren’t able to project and retain intent.
The costumes by Cari Byers are fairly on point. I missed seeing tie-dye anything. There were plenty of flowers in hair, but a lack of love beads. And, if she oversaw make-up, painted flowers and peace signs on bodies and faces didn’t make much of an appearance until Act Two’s group hallucination.
Jody Caley’s lighting design is wonderful on the opening and closing of the show. For those squeamish about such things, Caley also does a good job of hiding the nudity in deep shadow. Oh, and, at one point in the show there is a strobe effect.
There’s some audience interaction before, during and after the show. Accept the flower for your hair, settle into the atmosphere of the “be-in,” join the sing-along finale, and take the trip…without the acid, of course.
Editor's note: This article was updated to correct an error. The article mistakenly stated that there’s "no mention of" a strobe effect; however, there is an advisory notice at check-in that alerts patrons to the presence of strobe lights.
When: Friday - Saturday 8pm; Sundays 5pm through Aug 27
Saturday 4pm Aug 19 & 26
Tickets: $27 (www.majesticrepertory.com)
Producer: Majestic Repertory Theatre; Director: Troy Heard; Musical Director: Laurence Sobel; Lighting Design: Jody Caley; Scenic: The Design Ninjas; Costume Design: Cari Byers; Sound Design: Joey Jevne; Production Manager: Cory Covell; Stage Manager: Coral Benedetti