Before cell phones, the internet, and alternate forms of digital communication invited people to text and talk on a computer screen as an alternative to seeing someone in person, Hair highlights the value of in person camaraderie, especially when things seem to be falling apart. Set in war torn 1968 and focusing on a tribe of hippies that could possibly be drafted, emotionally and physically holding onto each other helps them cope in a world gone mad.
Directed astutely by Zoe Bradford with bold musical direction by Robert McDonough, Company Theatre continues the 1960’s rock musical Hair through August 21 live and in person at the Company Theatre, 130 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts. This show has mature themes and not appropriate for children. Click here for more information and for tickets.
What is so prevalent in Company Theatre’s production of Hair is the natural camaraderie between cast members tackling a work that requires the cast to engage so closely and without reservations. Hair is at times an immersive experience with some interaction with the audience and cast members occasionally marching down the aisles. An entire cast warmly together onstage is uplifting albeit still a tad bit strange to witness. It provides an escape from the world today with social distancing still not quite a thing of the past.
Though the musical took place almost 55 years ago, there are clearly some parallels with contemporary society. In a world with increasing protests, questions on gender, environmental concerns, women’s lib, the realities of war, racism, social injustice and societal division, Hair addresses many of these issues through song, humor, activism, and somberness. It also features some silly and sometimes unnecessary content, but the intrinsic nature of its most popular songs give it a poignancy and relevance that the musical isn’t always given enough credit for.
Hair takes place, as the famous song proclaims, in the Age of Aquarius where one is destined for either greatness or madness. With all the turmoil in the world, Hair seems to be embracing a bit of both. From Aquarius to Easy to Be Hard to Good Morning Starshine to Let the Sunshine In to its memorable title track, Hair delivers an energetic and steady stream of versatile music almost from beginning to end.
Not only does this young cast have strong vocals, but they also fit naturally into this era having done meticulous research with Bradford on the time period. Some historical footage is sporadically shared during the production. Charismatic Nolan Donato as Berger, the Tribe’s outspoken leader, is an engaging storyteller for the catchy song Donna. Fun-loving Peter Kirby as mysterious Claude delivers a humorous rendition of Manchester, England, but Claude’s inner turmoil is what truly brings out Kirby’s dynamic performance. Kirby also shines with the Tribe for I’ve Got Life. Julia Violet is wonderful as the free spirited Sheila and offers a moving rendition of Easy to Be Hard. Wearing slick 60s sunglasses, Jeff John-Phillipe as Hud candidly leads the Tribe in an affecting Colored Spade and later alone for Abie, Baby. Shawn Verrier gets a lot of laughs as historical and controversial Margaret Mead.
Love triangles are rampant and depicted quite humorously featuring Julia Violet as Sheila, Olivia Valianti, Emma Bergman, Amelia Kirshon, and Cate Healey in I Believe Love. He’s in love with her and she’s in love with him and he’s in love with someone else. Sally Aston Forrest’s funky and flowing choreography is at its best for the psychedelic Walking in Space enhanced by Dean Palmer Jr’s florescent lighting.
From beads to fringe to bell bottoms to slick 60s sunglasses to multi-pattered and flowing garments, costume designer Hannah Schuurman with set designer Ryan Barrow creates that groovy 60’s vibe featuring an embellished 60s theme truck, beaded passageways, and oriental rugs lining the stage.
Company Theatre’s rock musical Hair shows an era where people are anxious about the future and wondering where their destiny lies. It does not stray too far from today’s struggles, but peace, love, and happiness are not a thing of the past. Depicted by this young cast in a powerful, emotionally-charged rendition of Let the Sunshine In, perhaps the most important thing is holding onto each other.
Company Theatre continues the 1960’s rock musical Hair through August 21 live and in person at the Company Theatre, 130 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts. This show has mature themes and not appropriate for children. Click here for more information and for tickets.