From the moment the house lights dim and the opening chords of "Aquarius" fill the theatre HAIR is a non-stop, energy-driven force of nature. It's also interactive, with members of the Tribe filling the aisles, making connections with members of the audience whenever possible, whether passing out flowers or giving hugs.
The Tony Award-winning production tells the story of a group of young choosing to stand up for their beliefs and celebrate love, freedom and friendship. By the end of the show you learn that friendship transcends a changing world. The rock-infused score is filled with familiar and memorable songs, including "Aquarius," "Easy To Be Hard," "Let The Sun Shine In" and many more!
Baldwin-Wallace alum Steel Burkhardt stars as Berger, alongside understudy Marshal Kennedy Carolan as Claude (performing in place of Paris Remillard at the 1/22 matinee). Burkhardt barely pauses to catch his breath during the two-and-a-half hour show. He's constantly moving around the stage and running up and down the aisles, all the while delivering dialogue and singing in a strong, clear voice that never wavers from his exertion. Normally performing as part of the Tribe, Carolan seamlessly steps into the role of Claude, creating undeniable chemistry with Burkhardt and Sara King (Sheila). His Claude is sensitive yet strong, standing up for his convictions.
Other notable performers include Sara King as protestor Shelia (her rendition of "Easy To Be Hard" is completely stunning, by the way), Ryan Link as the comedic Woof, Aleque Reid as Jeanie, constantly pining for Claude and Will Blum and Liz Baltes in multiple roles.
Scott Pask's simple set is colorful, with a stylized sun for a backdrop and an old pick-up truck as the main set piece. The 11-piece band is placed on stage instead of being hidden from view in the orchestra pit. The costumes (originally designed by Michael McDonald) are the quintessential garb of the late 1960s – layered and flowing with bright patterns and lots of textures. There were a few times the sound mix was off, allowing the cast to be overpowered by the band, but it never deterred from the overall production.
At the end of the show, the audience is invited on stage to dance with the cast during the curtain call. Don't be shy if a member of the Tribe grabs your hand to lead you down the aisle because how many people can say they danced on the stage of the Palace Theatre with a bunch of fun-loving hippies?
Don't miss your chance to see HAIR since limited performances remain, running now through January 29th. HAIR is part of PlayhouseSquare's Smart Seats program. Tickets range from $10 to $82.50. Purchase tickets online at www.playhousesquare.org or by calling the box office at 216.241.6000. The Palace theatre is located at 1615 Euclid Avenue, in the heart of Cleveland's theatre district.
Photo Credit: Paris Remillard and Steel Burkhardt. Photo by Joan Marcus