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‘Hair’ is still growing

Forty-plus years later the musical is even more fun

Posted: June 15, 2012 6:00 a.m.
Updated: June 15, 2012 6:00 a.m.

Here, Claude, played by Christopher Chase (blonde at right with headband), “returns” to his hippie group.

 

Last week I had the pleasure of re-experiencing "Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical" at the little El Centro Theatre in Hollywood.

Now, I remember my first encounter with "Hair," at the much larger Aquarius Theater in Hollywood back in, like, 1970. At that time the musical was on the cutting edge of the peace and love movement that "the youth of America" (yes, that was me back then) thought would drastically change the world for the better. And, of course, it offered great music and a whole lot of fun, as it poked America's establishment and predominant moral and social standards with a sharp stick.

Well, here we are some 42 years later, and though the world hasn't changed drastically for the better - or maybe because it hasn't - the messages offered in "Hair," though decades-dated, somehow ring just as true.

Oh, and all that "sexual stuff" is somehow just as unsettling as it was back in the day, which keeps it all jolly-good fun.

"Hair" is being presented at the El Centro Theatre through June 24 by theTRIBE Productions, and features a number of Santa Clarita Valley residents, including Director Christopher Chase (who also plays Claude), George Chavez (Steve and Margaret Mead), Dominyque Dickson-Thorpe (Dionne), Tiffany Oliver (Sheila), Melanie Wahla (Jeanie) - and crew members Tony Oliver (vocal director), Steve Lennenburg (technical director) and Leanna Dindall (choreographer).

Several of these SCV folks were involved with the group's 2009 production of "Hair" as well.

Chase (who will be directing "The Laramie Project" at the Repertory East Playhouse in Newhall in July) said this production of "Hair" was part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival, and a Hollywood locale was a perfect setting for its message to reach a much larger scope of people than it might if it played in the SCV.

"Our hope is to eventually do shows that start in Hollywood and then come to Santa Clarita," he said.

So, you have the Santa Clarita connection pulling you down to Hollywood, but you've also got a great show. All of the classic "Hair" songs you have come to know are here, along with all of the expected "hippie" antics and a couple new wrinkles.

As Chase put it, "Our ‘Hair' proudly displays nudity, drag, drug use, spiritual exploration, questioning of religion, free sexuality, rejection of hypocritical ‘freedom' ... and love. What it doesn't display is judgment."

This version of "Hair," as the original version did so long ago, carries one overriding message. And, as character Margaret Mead puts it, that message is: "Do whatever you want, just so long as you don't hurt anyone."

This is a fun show, and be ready for the fun to begin before it even starts. But when it does, almost organically, kick into gear, you are in for a treat. The music is sharp, the choreography very tight and some of the singing voices live up to those I've heard on my "Hair" album these 40-plus years - which is no small feat.

If you saw "Hair" back in the day and want a dose of "feel like you felt back then," you really must get yourself down to the El Centro in the next two weekends. If you've always wondered what you missed, the same holds true. And if you just want to have a good time with some classic music and outlandish fun, here is your opportunity.

"Hair" continues at the El Centro Theatre through June 24, at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and at 6 p.m. on Sundays. Adult tickets are $40 but Santa Clarita residents can get half-price tickets by ordering at the website www.plays411.net/hair and using the promotional code Love50. The El Centro is located at 804 N. El Centro Ave., Hollywood, CA 90038. The theater phone is 323-230-7261.

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