Chicago, Saturday, March 12, 2011. The National Touring Company of Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical arrived in Chicago Tuesday for a two-week engagement of Diane Paulus’ 2009 Tony Award Winning Broadway revival. The energetic cast, most of whom weren’t born when the original Hair debuted in New York in 1967, brought a new high and intensity to this revolutionary show that marked a turning point in 1960’s culture.
What a Piece of Work is Hair.
Steel and Paris.
The 1960’s counter-culture is alive and well both on-stage and off-stage at the Oriental Theatre. The story of a “tribe” of young hippies in New York City getting high, having sex with multiple partners–both gay and straight, protesting the Vietnam War, thumbing their nose at authority figures and living for the day showcases a magnificent reincarnation of the original dawning of the Age of Aquarius.
With very little plot, a multiplicity of four-letter words and music that doesn’t follow any rules, the show shoves its questions in our faces demanding answers. And as with most satire, Hair does this to the extreme through physical dialogue and songs including: “Sodomy,” “Colored Spade,” “Black Boys,” and “White Girls” to name a few. And although progress has been made in equality between the sexes and races, more acceptance of gay rights and openness about sex, many of the questions the show asked then are still relevant today.
The Stars Shine.
Across the board, the cast seems to be hard-working, yet enjoying every minute. Their enthusiasm envelopes the audience creating a kind of euphoria that one might associate with psychedelic drugs.
You’ll Love Paris.
Claude (Paris Remillard), a conflicted teen from Flushing, N.Y., is the emotional and moral center of Hair. Paris does a remarkable acting job as he struggles between his loyalties to the tribe and the expectations of his parents.
If Claude is the emotional and moral center of Hair, then Berger (Steel Burkhardt) is the alternating bad boy, good boy who fires up the show with his hot sexy, brash, sassy, in your face Berger.
His energy is unbound and if you are anywhere near the front of the Oriental Theatre you will get to know Berger very, very well. From the start, he engages with witty banter while climbing over seats in a fringed leather loin-cloth.
Steel, from the original Broadway show, is the energizer bunny in constant motion throughout the two hour plus production as the leader of the show’s tribe of hippies and 1/3 of the love triangle of Berger, Claude and Shelia.
The third corner of the triangular love affair between Berger and Claude is Caren Lyn Tackett, as Shelia. Caren makes it easy to be heard as she belts out the lyrics to her solo “Easy to Be Hard” near the end of the first act.
When the moon is in the Seventh House Dionne (Phyre Hawkins) is in her best voice as she leads the tribe in the shows’ opening and signature song “Aquarius” and continues in good voice through the finale with “Fresh Failures” and “Let the Sun Shine In.”
Josh Lamon as Margaret Mead.
Another standout, Josh Lamon, as Margaret Mead (and others) brought the house down with his/her powerful rendition of “My Conviction.” A versatile actor as a man or a woman, Lamon also played Claude’s Dad.
Don’t Leave When the Curtain Goes Down.
For some, the after-party is the best part. After the final curtain goes down and the applause is slowing, the curtain comes up and the cast invites the audience to “let their hair down” and join them for an on stage celebration in song and dance.
Tickets for Hair range in price from $27 to $90 with a select number of premium seats available. Tickets may be purchased at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 152 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St., and 175 E. Chestnut), The Broadway In Chicago Ticket Kiosk at Water Tower Place at 845 N. Michigan Ave. or by phone at 800 775 2000, at all Ticketmaster locations, select Carson Pirie Scott locations and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com
Location and Running Time.
The Oriental Theatre is located at 24 W. Randolph St. The shows’ running time is 2 hours and 24 minutes including one intermission. Hair must leave March 20, 2011.
Filed under: The Best of Show Me Chicago