Friday, June 3, 2011

Good Hair in South Florida

Best “Hair” Ever at Broward Center

By Skip Sheffield

When the musical “Hair” made its debut at Joe Papp’s Public Theatre in October, 1967, it was already dated. The hippie era it celebrated- if it ever existed- had fizzled out into violence, crime and acrimony.
Yet the characters created by Jerome Ragni, James Rado and Galt MacDermott lived on to become a part of American culture.
In a sense “Hair” is as much a period piece as “Oklahoma” or “South Pacific,” but it is back, younger, livelier and sexier than ever in a revival that continues through Sunday, June 5 at Arsht Center in Miami. The show moves to Broward Center June 7-19.
This newest version of this modern, mythical, free-form classic combines various incarnations of the story, including the original stage show and the 1979 movie, with added songs and dialogue.
Though it makes for a longer show, this is the best all-around “Hair” I have ever seen. The two male leads, the draft-fearing slacker Claude and free-loving hedonist Berger are powerfully realized by Paris Remillard and Steel Burkhardt.
Peace activist Sheila, who is loved by Claude but lusts for Berger, is realized with sexy sweetness by Caren Lyn Tackett.
Jeanie is pregnant and proud, and Kacie Sheik brings good humor to what could be a troubled character. Matt DeAngelis nicely brings out the sexual ambiguity of Woof.
One of the members of the “tribe” is played by Olympic Heights High School and proud FSU graduate, Mike Evariste.
There is a terrific band up on scaffolding onstage, lead by pianist David Truskinoff and complete with horn section.. The band doesn’t really let loose until Act II, when guitarist Josh Weinstein begins unleashing power chords and Hendrix-flavored feedback.
“Hair” is an in-the-aisles, in-your-face and tousle-your-hair experience. If you are nervous about having your comfort zone invaded, this is probably not a show for you. If nudity and sex offend, by all means stay away, for the Act I finale includes nude bodies of all shapes and sizes, in their newborn glory.
It seems almost quaint now the way “hair’ celebrates pot-smoking, free love and civil disobedience, but if you enjoy it as a period piece you see the cartoonish aspects of this wacky mid-American “tribe.”
There is a serious side to “Hair” that is not lost. Young lives were being sacrificed to what turned out to be an unwinnable war, and Claude becomes the martyr symbol for soldiers offered up for sacrifice.
For sheer joy and entertainment, it is doubtful you will discover any show this year that tops this “Hair.”
Tickets are $25-$69 at Broward Center. Call 954-462-0222.