Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires


Regional Reviews by Zander Opper

Hair
Bridgeport Theatre Company

Also see Fred's reviews of Arcadia and Poe


Joe Cardozo and Cast
Bridgeport Theatre Company is currently offering a real blast from the past in its marvelous, immersive new revival of Hair. As presented at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport, Connecticut, one is greeted by cast members even before getting to one's seat, some handing out flowers and many giving the peace sign. This immediately sets the mood of the evening. There is the general atmosphere of the late sixties in the air, with hippies and long hair and tie-dye everywhere you look. This is all fitting for the musical and, once the cast starts singing such songs as "Aquarius" and "I Got Life," the transformation is complete—it truly feels like it is 1968, the year that Hair first rocked Broadway and changed the landscape of the American musical forever.

What's even nicer about this production is that the cast, both singly and as a group, is pretty sensational, with almost every actor getting a chance to shine. A good deal of credit must go to Lance Gray, who has wonderfully directed and choreographed, for the show seems to get better and better as it goes along. With terrific work from his set designer Ryan O'Neill, costume designer Jessica Camarero, and lighting designers Hugh Hallinan and Phil Hill, everything comes together beautifully to precisely capture director Lance Gray's vision.

As written by Gerome Ragni and James Rado (book and lyrics) and Galt Macdermot (music), Hair is very much a show where the songs take precedence over the story, which has always been on the slim side. Consequently, without a knockout group of singers and the appropriate atmosphere, a production of Hair can sometimes wilt. Happily, the Bridgeport Theatre Company's revival has talent to burn in just about every department and this production proves to be enormously satisfying.

As mentioned, it is those songs that truly make Hair shine and, with a great onstage band led by musical director Eli Newsom, the cast is pretty glorious singing this score. In the lead roles of Berger and Claude, Bill Adams and Marques Christopher are pretty terrific and ignite the stage with such songs as "I Got Life," "Hair," and the powerful first act finale, "Where Do I Go?" Another stand-out is Arielle Boutin, who delivers a beautiful "Good Morning Starshine" and a superb "Easy to Be Hard." The charming "Frank Mills" is sung by the adorable Chelsea Dacey, and Joe Cardozo memorably leads such numbers as "Sodomy" and "Ain't Got No." Not to be forgotten, Acacia Cannon and Minuette Griffin are especially sizzling singing "White Boys" and Sarah Paige Morris starts the show off with a wonderful "Aquarius."

The cast manages to conjure up a time when young people went to a "be-in" to protest the war and celebrate music, pot, and love; and young men were burning their draft cards in an attempt to stay out of Vietnam. That all of this is so convincingly portrayed by a group of actors whose parents may not even have been alive in 1968 is a tribute to everyone involved. So, it is highly recommended that you take a trip to the Bridgeport Theatre Company's revival of Hair to be vividly transported to a different time and place, with great songs beautifully sung by an unbeatable cast.

Hair continues performances at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport, Connecticut through October 25th, 2014. For tickets, please visit www.BridgeportTheatre.org or call the box office at 203-576-1636.


Photo: Kevin McNair

- Zander Opper


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