rock musical" its moment in the sun. Somewhat juvenile by today's
standards ("Rent," for example), "Hair" nevertheless functions as a
high-voltage retrospective of an era when antiwar protesters had a
vested interest in their cause -- unlike those today who oppose U.S.
involvement in Iraq, it was their own heads that might be blown off
Today's youthful audience might view the scenes depicting the
burning of draft cards with a bemused shrug, but in 1968, selective
service was a specter hovering over an entire generation. Its
response ("Hell no, we won't go") was amplified and set to a vibrant
beat in "Hair."
At UCI, director Keith Fowler -- who does remember the 1960s and
saw the original Broadway production -- brings this testy,
confrontational era back to life with a supremely energetic cast of
students spilling all over the stage of the Claire Trevor Theater and
often into the audience as well.
It's the ensemble excitement, choreographed by Janice Gudde
Plastino, that gives "Hair" its contagious appeal -- certainly not
its plot, sketchily created by Gerome Ragni and James Rado, which
exists only to further the cause of Galt MacDermot's music, here
faithfully delivered by Dennis Castellano at the helm of a
All of this off-the-wall activity transpires on an inspired
junkyard setting designed by Lindsay Gassaway, which offers protest
pictures from the 1960s emblazoned on a pair of bedsheet screens to
set the proper pre-show mood. Actors also mingle with the patrons
before the action begins, one petite blond offering to paint peace
signs on playgoers' arms.
Once the show gets under way, only a few actors in the splendidly
drilled ensemble take center stage. The key figure is Claude (Tyler
Stamets), who's just gotten his "greetings" from Uncle Sam and is
celebrating his last night of freedom with the "tribe." Stamets
conveys his apprehensive confusion about his future skillfully.
Martin Giannini as the ruler of the tribe, the combative Berger,
is a powerful stage presence, bending others to his will. Brett
Teresa tears up the stage as Woof, a straight fellow with the hots
for Mick Jagger.