Keith Dougherty’s review of Hair

July 16, 2019

Forestburgh Playhouse

     It’s always exciting on opening night at Forestburgh Playhouse but there was something special in the air Tuesday night at the opening of Hair. I quickly forgot about the horrendous downpour I drove through to get there and was quickly treated to a wonderful outpouring of joy, love, fun and gifted actors. It’s one thing to watch a cast of very talented performers but when it’s obvious that they truly love what they’re doing, it brings it all to another level. This particular musical allows the audience to see the cast in this specific light and watch them shine.

Hair: The American Tribal-Love Rock Musical, with books and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado and music by Galt MacDermot, opened on Broadway in April of 1968. Some of the more popular songs from the diverse score became Top Ten hits and in 2009, a Broadway revival won Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Revival of a Musical. This revival at the wonderful Forestburgh Playhouse is exuberant, insightful, joyful and not without contemporary significance.

Hair, beautifully directed and choreographed here by Valerie Wright, tells the tale of the “tribe,” a mixed group of long-haired, politically active and passionate hippies, living a bohemian, marijuana abundant lifestyle in New York City. Battling the sexual revolution, the draft, their parents and the pressures to conform, the tribe chooses to make love not war. We meet the vibrant Berger (Chris Persichetti), who immediately pulls the audience into the story with his charm and wit, his good friend, Claude (Alex Walton), and their roommate, Sheila (Chiara Trentalange.) These somewhat leaders rally their troops as they celebrate the joys and powers of youth.

From the opening song Aquarius, hauntingly and beautifully sung by a returning ResCo (resident company) member, Abeba Isaac, and the tribe, to Trentalange’s melodic Good Morning Starshine, every song makes you a little more aware and evokes a different emotion. The company did terrific renditions of White Boys, Abie, Baby, Let the Sunshine In, and of course, Hair. The Forestburgh Playhouse ResCo continues to knock it out of the park with stand-outs, Sam Pearson, Aaron Patterson, Mackenzie Meyh, Jordan O’Brien and John Zamborsky. As Woof, returningResCo member, Andrew Stevens Purdy, was a joy to watch and is a talented natural on stage.

Chris Persichetti gave us an energetic Berger with impressive comic chops and Alex Walton’s Claude was adeptly multi-leveled and appropriately intense. Both actors skillfully conveyed their relationship with each other, as well as with Sheila, and many members of the tribe, with a natural range of varied emotion. Another Forestburgh alumna, Chiara Trentalange smoothly brought Sheila to life with grace.

Scenic Designer, Tim Golebiewski, gave us a strong, multi-leveled set that was very effective and worked beautifully with Lighting Designer, Ethan Newman’s, wonderful vision. The subtle light changes not only added depth to the stage but to every song.

Costumes by Ashleigh Poteat were delightful and represented the period and the power perfectly. Kudos as well to Music Director, Mark Galinovsky and Sound Designer, Travis Byrne. This was teamwork at its finest.

This very special production of Hair, produced by Franklin Trapp, will run until Sunday, July 28th, at the Forestburgh Playhouse. Don’t miss it. Visit: https://www.fbplayhouse.org/

or call 845-794-1194 for tix & info.

 

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