Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Hair is considered a product of the hippie, counter-culture and sexual revolution of the 1960s. The musical's depiction of the use of illegal drugs, and casual treatment of sexuality (including a brief nude scene) made it objectionable to many. Its controversial anti-war sentiment and associated irreverence for the American flag made some of its songs anthems of the anti-Vietnam War peace movement. Hair broke new ground in musical theatre by defining the genre of rock musical, using a racially integrated cast and inviting the audience onstage for a "Be-In" finale.
The story revolves around a group of bohemian youths in the 1960s, astute enough to know what is wrong with the world around them but not equipped to know how to change it. They focus on what they knoweach other. They object to the Vietnam War and virtually all of the societal standards imposed upon them. They seek comfort in the company of their tribe of friends, sharing life experiences and self exploration through things like recreational drugs and free love. They are faced with the reality of life when a few of their members receive draft notices and must choose to either avoid the draft and break the law, or serve their country in a war they don't support.
Hair more than stands the test of time, its relevance redefined with each new decade. The costuming for this production is more like street clothes than costumes and, interestingly enough, is not far off from what one might see at assorted Miami dance clubs. From the start of the show the audience is engaged by a cast that interacts with them by climbing atop the armrests of empty seats, running fingers through their hair and pressing their bodies against them. Steel Burkhardt is powerfully charismatic as Berger. At first glance Berger runs about with all the unfocused, random energy of a six-year-old on a sugar high. A closer look reveals that only well crafted acting and carefully rehearsed staging could create such an effect on a stage filled with so much action. He genuinely makes each moment seem spontaneous and without thought of repercussion. Burkhardt does it all with a guileless grin that makes Berger nearly impossible to resist as he struts through numbers such as "Donna."
The tone of the show is set from the beginning with "Aquarius" being soulfully sung by Phyre Hawkins as Dionne. Her voice continues to shine in brief moments throughout the show. Paris Remillard has a sweet quality as Claude with the songs "Manchester, England" and "I Got Life," but seems less immersed in his character than Burkhardt. One is aware of him acting on occasion. Caren Lynn Tackett as Sheila has two of the best songs in the show, "Easy to Be Hard" and "Good Morning Starshine," but lacks any spark. The songs are a bit disappointing in her hands.
Josh Lamon is most impressive as Margaret Mead. He is unrecognizable in his transformation into the character and finds every comic moment in his scene. His reveal at the end of the song "My Conviction" is one of the funniest moments in the show. Kaitlin Kiyan is adorable as kooky Crissy. Her singing voice is clear and strong in "Frank Mills," and her acting is reminiscent of the character Phoebe on the TV series "Friends." Throughout the production there is extraordinarily tight staging, with action that fills the stage. The cast embodies a spirit of communal love and acceptance in a time of turbulence. This touring production is worthy of its slated return to Broadway in July.
The original Broadway production of Hair opened at the Biltmore Theatre in April of 1968, after their Off-Broadway debut at Joseph Papp's Public Theatre in October of 1967. The production received Tony Award nominations for Best Musical and Best Director, closing on July 1, 1972, after 1,750 performances. A 1977 Broadway revival ran again at the Biltmore Theatre for 43 performances. A second Broadway revival officially opened at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on March 31, 2009, closing on June 27, 2010, after 29 previews and 519 regular performances. The production won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Musical, and the Drama League Award for Distinguished Revival of a Musical. Following their Broward Center engagement, this Broadway Across America production will return to Broadway's St. James Theatre on July 5, 2011. For more information on the show please visit www.HairOnTour.com.
Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical will be appearing at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through June 19, 2011. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts is located in the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District at 201 SW Fifth Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Presentations at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts are sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Support is also contributed by the Broward Performing Arts Foundation, Inc. The Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment Consortium is a cultural partnership between the Performing Arts Center Authority, Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale, Florida Grand Opera., Fort Lauderdale Historical Society and The Historic Stranahan House Museum. It is supported by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners as recommended by the Broward Cultural Council and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Visitors Bureau. Evening performances are Tuesday - Saturday at 8:00pm and Sundays at 7:30pm. Matinee performances are Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00pm. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts houses the Au-Rene Theater, the Amaturo Theatre, and the Abdo New River Room, and has affiliated venues at the Parker Playhouse, the Rose and Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center, the Miramar Cultural Center and the newly opened Aventura Arts & Cultural Center. For any of the offerings of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts you may contact them by phone at 954-462-0222 or online at www.browardcenter.org .
This Broadway Across America - Ft. Lauderdale production of Hair is presented in arrangement with the Florida Theatrical Association, which is a non-profit, civic organization with a volunteer board of trustees established to ensure the continued presentation of quality national touring Broadway productions in the state of Florida. Broadway Across America is dedicated to creating memorable and accessible theatrical experiences for all guests, selling over 5 million tickets to first rate Broadway shows, family productions and other live theatrical events in over 40 North American cities each year. For more information or to purchase tickets through an authorized agent, please visit www.broadwayacrossamerica.com.