Review: ‘Hair’

Public Theater's colorful revival of "Hair," all dressed up for an extended road tour, promises to evoke vivid flashbacks for veterans of the psychedelic 1960s.

Public Theater’s colorful revival of “Hair,” all dressed up for an extended road tour, promises to evoke vivid flashbacks for veterans of the psychedelic 1960s while providing a zesty tutorial for younger generations wondering what the hubbub was all about. An exuberant young tribe of pros has descended on the Kennedy Center Opera House for a month of refreshing innocence — a rarity in the cynical nation’s capital — for what is one of the lengthiest bookings of the tuner’s 20-stop acid trip announced so far.


A musical recognized initially for its shock appeal has clearly been tamed by 40 years, even with its flash of nudity at the end of act one. But it’s no less satisfying thanks to an infectious collection of numbers preaching love, tolerance and flower power. Indeed, composer Galt MacDermot’s eclectic music still impresses, as do Gerome Ragni and James Rado’s eternal lyrics about intolerance, drugs, sex and rebellion. It is virtually impossible to walk out of this musical without a tune on your lips.

Supported by a 10-piece band and the sturdy direction of Diane Paulus, who keeps the crew faithful to the period, “Hair’s” touring cast members display boundless energy as they race through the aisles and cavort with the audience. Major roles are all in good hands, led by Steel Burkhardt’s athletic and precocious tribe leader Berger, who sets an early tone of naughtiness and high spirits. Ditto Phyre Hawkins’ full-throated treatment to opening number “Aquarius.”

Kaitlin Kiyan is the picture of innocence and vulnerability, especially in the enchanting number “Frank Mills.” So, too, is Kacie Sheik’s pregnant Jeannie, showing off her strong soprano in “Air.”

The whole affair is nicely attired in Scott Pask’s colorful set, the picture of psychedelic awareness.


Eisenhower Theater, Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.; 1,110 seats; $115 top


A Kennedy Center presentation of a Public Theater, Nederlander Prods., Carl Moellenberg/Wenlarbar Prods., Rebecca Gold/Myla Lerner, Paul G. Rice/Paul Bartz, Jeffrey Richards, Rick Costello, Jerry Frankel, Terry Schnuck, Joey Parnes presentation, by special arrangement with Elizabeth Ireland McCann, of a musical in two acts with music by Galt MacDermot, book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado. Directed by Diane Paulus. Music direction, David Truskinoff; choreography, Karole Armitage;


Sets, Scott Pask; costumes, Michael McDonald; lighting, Kevin Adams; sound, Acme Sound Partners. Opened, reviewed Oct. 28, 2010. Runs through Nov. 21. Running time: 2 HOURS, 30 MIN.


Dionne Phyre Hawkins Berger Steel Burkhardt Woof Matt DeAngelis Hud Darius Nichols Claude Paris Remillard Sheila Caren Lyn Tackett Jeanie Kacie Sheik Crissy Kaitlin Kiyan
With: Allison Guinn, Josh Lamon, Lee Zarrett, Lulu Fall, Shaleah Adkisson, Nicholas Belton, Marshal Kennedy Carolan, Mike Evariste, Nkrumah Gatling, John Moauro, Christine Nolan, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Kate Rockwell, Cailan Rose, Jen Sese, Lawrence Stallings.

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