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THEATER REVIEW - Hair

by Chris Conley

THEATER REVIEW (WSAU)   Modern-day protesting has never been easier. Sign this on-line petition. Click ‘like’ to support cause. Post video from the protest on-line and it can live forever. Send an angry text message to this-or-that corporation. Post a negative review on Yelp! or Epinions.

The modern counter-culture exists part-time and on-line in dorm rooms. Social-consciousness fits neatly between classes or a summer internship. There’s probably more change-the-world thinking than ever before. It’s more mainstream. It’s also less effort.

Young people who see Hair will easily identify the cause – protesting the Vietnam War. They may even get the context that it was a very small leap in the late 1960s to take a war protest and turn it into protesting-everything-else. But the methods are foreign. Drop out? Live in a park? Like Occupy Wall Street? The modern protest is awash in Starbucks and designer jeans. Some people – the homeless – hold Zucatti Park overnight. The rest go home to their parent’s basement until the next morning.

Hair is old-school. Protesting was a full-time gig then.

Thinking, as I did, ‘that’s not how we do it now’ won’t take away from your enjoyment of Wausau Community Theater’s show. If you don’t know Hair, throw out your regular Broadway musical expectations. Rogers & Hart have taken the night off. Hair is even less structured than it’s distant-modern cousin Rent. CBS’s opening  night review described Hair as ‘vulgar and sloppy’ yet also ‘terrific’. It is.

Two things stood out in my mind from this production, and they are linked. There's a lot of young talent in this cast (half the tribe is made up of high school students), and this is the best-choreographed show Wausau Community Theater has ever staged. Addy Wermund choreographed many D.C. Everest High School productions. For her first effort with WCT she's raised the bar while keeping her young cast on its toes.

Levi Ballenger stars as Claude, the soon-to-be-draftee who claims to be from Manchester, England--although he's really from Queens. If I wasn't told he's about to be a senior at Wausau-West, I wouldn't believe it. He'll continue to land lead roles in WCT productions. Corey E. Martin and Quinn Foss were stand-out members of tribe. Kate Kierzkowski's "Easy To Be Hard" was haunting.

There’s something authentic about Hair that endures even though it's a ghost of 45 years ago. Too many musicals are frozen in time. You look in on a distant scene or situation. You may not be drawn in. Yet Hair is viral; no two performances will ever be exactly alike. You experience this show instead of just seeing it. The performers feed off the audience. The audience connects with the show.

I should be a hard-sell for Hair. I've always been mainstream, not counter-culture. No drugs. No booze. No picketing. I would have held onto my draft card, waited for my number to be called, accepted my crew cut and gone off to war. That Hair so easily conveys its cause and passion to a conformist like me shows how powerful it is. 

Chris Conley
6.21.12



Performaces of Hair: Friday and Saturday, 7:30pm. Sunday, 2pm. Grand Theater, Wausau.

Here's an archieve of earlier reviews:

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (Mat 7, 2013)

http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2013/mar/08/theater-review-jesus-christ-superstar/

A CHRISTMAS CAROL 2012 - (Dec 15, 2012) http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2012/dec/16/theater-review-christmas-carol-2012/

THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS  (Nov 9, 2012)
http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2012/nov/09/theater-review-bawdy-good-lesson-about-human-natur/

CAMELOT (Oct 26, 2012)
http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2012/oct/26/opinion-camelot/

ANNIE (Sept 4, 2012)
http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2012/sep/06/theater-preview-annie/

LEGALLY BLONDE – THE MUSICAL (Aug 2, 2012)
http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2012/aug/03/theater-preview-legally-blonde-musical/

A CHORUS LINE (Jun 21, 2012)
http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2012/jun/22/theater-review-heavy-dose-dance-chorus-line/

DR DOLITTLE (Mar 17, 2012)
http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2012/mar/17/theater-review-dr-dolittle/

A CHHRISTMAS CAROL – 2011 (Dec 18, 2011)
http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2011/dec/18/theater-review-christmas-carol-2011/

MAN OF LAMANCHA (Nov 6, 2011)
http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2011/nov/06/theater-review-man-la-mancha/

DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS (Oct 23, 2011)
http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2011/oct/23/theater-review-dirty-rotten-scoundrels/


OKLAHOMA(Sept 8, 2011)
http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2011/sep/08/theater-preview-oklahoma/

EVITA (Aug 8, 2011)
http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2011/aug/04/theater-preview-evita/

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (Jul 23, 2011)
http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2011/jul/23/theater-review-philadelphia-story/

SMOKEY JOES CAFE (Jun 23, 2011)
http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2011/jun/23/thaeter-preview-smokey-joes-cafe/

KISS ME, KATE (Apr 17, 2011)
http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2011/apr/17/opinion-kiss-me-kate/

HELLO DOLLY! (Mar 11, 2011)
http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2011/mar/11/theater-review-hello-dolly/

PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (Feb 18, 2011)
http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2011/feb/18/theater-review-phantom-opera/

A CHRISTMAS CAROL - 2010 (Dec 17, 2010)http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2010/dec/18/review-christmas-carol/ 

THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK (Nov 4, 2010)
http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2010/nov/04/theater-review-diary-anne-frank/

PIRATES OF PENZANCE (Sept 17, 2010)
http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2010/sep/17/theater-review-pirates-revenge/

MISS SAIGON (Aug 8, 2010)
http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2010/aug/06/theater-review-miss-saigon/

RENT (June 18, 2010)
http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2010/jun/18/theater-review-rent/

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF  (Mar 5, 2010)
http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2010/mar/13/opinion-good-tradition/