Theatre Information

Firehouse Theatre Project Hair

By • Jul 2nd, 2014 • Category: Reviews, Virginia
Firehouse Theatre Project: (Info) (Web)
Firehouse Theatre, Richmond, VA
Through July 19th
2:25 with intermission
$35/$29 Seniors/$16 Student, RAPT, Military
Reviewed June 28th, 2014

To prepare to see Hair at Firehouse Theatre, I watched a couple of reruns of “The Partridge Family.” If you are old enough to understand why, then you are also from the Love generation. If not, let the History teacher in me step out and give you a brief history lesson.

The late sixties was a time when America first really explored our collective way of life, our values and our morals. The duality is exemplified in the fact that it was the time of “The Partridge Family,” “The Brady Bunch” and “Mary Tyler Moore,” and also “Love American Style,” Woodstock, and the rock musical Hair. The Vietnam War raged on. College sit-ins, street protests and the military draft all became a part of the American way of life.

It is against this backdrop that Hair first appeared in 1968. Thin on plot, the musical focuses on songs — with over 30 of them shattering cultural norms of the time by discussing sex, drugs, race, religion and war. There is simulated drug use, sex and even brief nudity — all relatively mild in our current culture, but shocking in its time.

The script itself follows a group of hippies who call themselves “the tribe.” Their nominal leader, Claude (Matt Polson) is faced with the dilemma of whether to burn his draft card or go and fight in Vietnam.

The young and exuberant cast is filled with amazing vocal and dance talent. Polson’s pure voice and innocent demeanor carry the show well. Carolyn Meade’s powerful vocals open and close the show with strength. Nicklas Aliff displayed a strong voice and stage presence; however at times his vocals overpowered others when he sang in duets or trios. In this strong cast, I found myself repeatedly drawn to the emotional power Sasha Wakefield put in to every dance number, and the expressiveness Morgan Meadows face exudes every time she is on stage. Maura Burroughs was warm and sensitive as pregnant Mother Earth-like Jeanie.

Director Jase Smith has assembled a top-notch cast and uses the audience and Benjamin Burke’s minimalist stage well (actually the Firehouse removed the stage in lieu of some platforms and Oriental rugs on the floor). Nathan Wunderlich’s lights and Joey Luck’s sound add a great deal to the atmosphere (be prepared for lots of flashes and loud booms). At times it seemed either actors missed their lighting marks or lights weren’t quite set right, as performers stepped in and out of darkness, especially in whole cast numbers. Karl Green’s costumes are period appropriate and visually appealing. Starrene Foster’s choreography is visually exciting and energetic; however, at times it left some of the cast rather sweaty and breathless.

The history teacher in me must come back one more time to encourage those who remember the 60′s to come out and relive that time; and those who are too young to remember to come out and experience a two and a half hour acid trip of a show. You will leave with a tear in your eye, a smile on your face and will be humming the uplifting finale, “Let the Sunshine In.”

Photo Gallery

Photo 1 Photo 2
Photo 3 Photo 4
Photo 5 Photo 6
Photo 7

Photos by Laura Cliburn

The Cast

  • Claude: Matt Polson
  • Berger: Nicklas Aliff
  • Sheila: Grey Garrett
  • Jeanie: Maura Burroughs
  • Dionne: Carolyn Meade
  • Hud: Keydron Dunn
  • Woof: Ian Page
  • Chrissy: Morgan Meadows
  • Dad, Principal, Margaret: Paul Major
  • Mom, Hubert: Starlet Knight
  • Ronny: Chloe Williams
  • Steve: Austin Tate
  • Walter: Cory Johnson
  • Paul: ReShad Horton
  • Suzzanah/Mary: Sasha Wakefield
  • Emmaretta: Avia Fields

The Creative Team

    Directed by Jase Smith
  • Choreographer: Starrene Foster
  • Music Director: Leilani Giles
  • Costume Designer: Karl Green
  • Light Designer: Nathan Wunderlich
  • Set Designer: Benjamin Burke
  • Sound Designer/Technical Director: Joey Luck
  • Production Stage Manager: Nata Marconi
  • Props Master: Katherine Wright
  • Master Carpenter: Joshua Bennett

The Band

  • PianoLeilani Giles
  • Keys 2: Starlet Knight
  • PercussionBentley Cobb, Jr.
  • Lead GuitarGrant Oliver
  • Bass Guitar: Joe Barry
  • SaxophoneRon Fixx

Disclaimer: Firehouse Theatre Project provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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