The eyebrow-raising 1967 psychedelic rock musical Hair: The American Tribal Love Rock Musical, now quickening Baby Boomers’ pulses at the Durham Performing Arts Center, is a real trip (pun intended), a tie-dyed treat with a toe-tapping score that includes “Aquarius,” “Let the Sun Shine In,” “Easy to Be Hard,” and “Good Morning, Starshine.” It is easy to see why the current touring version of the prize-winning 2009 Broadway revival of Hair, produced by The Public Theater et al., won the Tony Award® and the Drama Desk Award for best revival of a musical.
The magnificent multilevel minimalist set by scenic designer Scott Pask facilitate the imaginative and invigorating musical staging by director Diane Paulus and choreographer Karole Armitage. It also provides a band stand for 11 hard-rocking musicians — and a showcase for electrifying solos by guitarist Jake Langley and drummer Wayne Dunton — who keep the joint jumping from the first note to the last.
Flamboyant mid-1960s fashions by costume designer Michael McDonald recreate some outrageous ensembles from the dawn of the hippie era, and wig designer Berard Kelly adds authenticity to the proceedings with his shoulder-length tresses for men and giant Afros for men and women.
Steel Burkhardt and Paris Remillard play iconoclastic free spirit George Berger (“Donna”) and his movie-star-handsome best friend Claude Hooper Bukowski (“Manchester, England”) with plenty of panache. But other cast members lack the requisite charisma — and, in some cases, the vocal chops — to bring their sketchy characters fully and gloriously to life.
Caren Lyn Tackett and Kacie Sheik are cute as anti-war political activist Sheila Franklin and pregnant Earth Mother Jeanie Ryan, who carry Statue of Liberty-size torches for Berger and Claude, respectively; and Matt DeAngelis is amusing as Woof (“Sodomy”), who would have sex with Mick Jagger, but vehemently denies that he’s gay. Darius Nichols and Phyre Hawkins add memorable cameos as Dionne (“Aquarius”) and Hud (“Colored Spade”); and memorable bits by Allison Guinn and Josh Lamon as the draft-eligible Claude’s Mother and Father, Lamon as a cross-dressing takeoff on anthropologist Margaret Mead, and Lulu Fall as Abraham Lincoln spice up the show.
If it were a motion picture, this traveling production of Hair would be Rated R (for profanity, simulated sex acts, and a brief dimly lit nude interlude at the end of Act One). As it is, the show more lives up to its reputation as an in-your-face celebration of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Hair lets its freak flag fly as its hirsute cast makes frequent forays into the DPAC audience, while its onstage rock band unleashes rafter-rattling riffs.
SECOND OPINION: May 12th Durham, NC Herald-Sun review by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/view/full_story/13226920/article–Hair–is-a-groovy–loving-party-at-DPAC?instance=main_article and May 6th preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/view/full_story/13143474/article-Singing-in–Hair–is-a-wild-ride?instance=main_article (Note: You must register first to read this article). (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the May 10th Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2011/05/dpac-brings-the-award-winning-2009-broadway-revival-of-the-1967-rock-musical-hair-to-durham/)
The Durham Performing Arts Center presents HAIR at 7:30 p.m. May 12, 8 p.m. May 13, 2 and 8 p.m. May 14, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. May 15 at DPAC, in the American Tobacco District, at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701.
TICKETS: $25.75-$73 (including fees).
DPAC Box Office: 919/680-ARTS (2787), email@example.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/default.asp?dpac=54.
Ticketmaster: 800/745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/745477.
GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/default.asp?dpac=22.
VIDEO PREVIEW: http://www.hairontour.com/.
The Musical: http://www.hairthemusical.com/ (official website by James Rado), http://www.michaelbutler.com/hair/ (online archives by Michael Butler), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hair_musical (Wikipedia), http://www.lortel.org/ (Internet Off-Broadway Database), and http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?id=4153 (Internet Broadway Database).
The 2009 Broadway Revival: http://www.hairontour.com/ (official website).
The Tour: http://www.hairontour.com/ (official website).
The Film: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hair_(film) (Wikipedia) and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079261/ (Internet Movie Database).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
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To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.