The Age of Aquarius Shines On at Kravis Center
By Skip Sheffield
It’s been almost 50 years since it was “The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius.”
So though Aquarius may be in its twilight years, “Hair” the musical lives on as a lively period piece. MNM Productions presents “Hair’ through June 5 in the Rinker Theater of the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach.
“Hair” was quite a sensation when it opened on Broadway in October of 1967. The Vietnam War was raging and “Hair” was adamently anti-war. The dialogue was laced with profanity and sexual situations. The most notorious part of the show was the Act One finale, when most of the cast sheds their clothes and stands proudly naked.
The current production retains the nude scene but it happens so fast if you blink your eye you will miss it. It is performed in very low light, so even if you stare it is hard to discern much.
The plot of “Hair” by Gerome Ragni and James Rado is minimal. It concerns a band of New York City hippies who call themselves “The Tribe.” The three main leaders are the outgoing Berger (Mike Westrich), the introverted Claude (Michael Scott Ross) and their girlfriend and roommate Sheila (Alexa Baray). Claude is being pressured by his conservative parents to cut his hair and join the Army. Will he or won’t he is the central question.
The best think about “hair” is its musical score by Canadian composer Galt MacDermot. Some of the songs became popular hits. The Fifth Dimension scored with “The Age of Aquarius” and “Let The Sun Shine In.” Three Dog Night had a big hit with “Easy to Be Hard.” “Good Morning Starshine” was recorded by several groups.
The rest of the score is incidental and novelty music as The Tribe goes about its daily routine of protesting the draft, singing songs of rebellion and non-conformity and celebrating sex in its many facets.
The ensemble cast of “Hair” is quite strong, with fresh young faces that weren’t born when the show was created. Mike Westrich is particularly appealing as irrepressible Berger. Michael Scott Ross is properly moody and conflicted as Claude. Alexa Baray gets to sing some of the best songs, but she is not the strongest singer. Her strength is in the dramatic department. My favorite supporting cast is Khadijah Rolle, a tiny woman with a big voice and good sense of humor which she demonstrates when she impersonates Abraham Lincoln. Elijah Word is fine as the representative lean, hungry and angry young black man, Hud.
The six-piece onstage band, led by musical director Paul Reekie, is fine and puts out an amazing variety and volume of sound for such a small group.
Much of “Hair” seems quaint and dated, but one thing about the show has never gone out of fashion: peace, love and happiness.
Tickets are $45. Call 800-572-8471 or go to www.kravis.org.