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A CurtainUp Berkshire Review
By Macey Levin

Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in,
The sunshine in.

— The Tribe
Kayla Foster in Hair
The first rock musical by Gerome Ragni, James Rado (music and lyrics) and Galt MacDermot (music,) is now fifty years old and feels like it. The current production at Berkshire Theatre Group's Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge, MA, has a number of redemptive things in it, but the play isn't one of them.

To say it's a dated ode to hippiedom is being kind. However, the obvious intent by the producers is to tie 1968 to 2018. . . a debilitating lengthy war, an administration that ignores the best needs of the country, a narcissistic president, an alienated youth. Other plays with a different but still scathing perspective such as David Rabe's Sticks and Bones or Lanford Wilson's The Fifth of July would have been more substantial.

What it does have is an energetic cast (it's a good thing they're young) with terrific voices, lithe bodies, exuberant choreography, picture-perfect stage pictures and a familiar score. Of note in the cast are Latoya Edwards (Dionne) who starts the show off with a driving "Aquarius," Livvy Marcus (Jeannie) who sings a tongue-in-cheek "Air," Brandon Contreras (Berger,) a dominant figure with a roaring stage presence, though he sometimes relies too heavily on facial expressions to make his points, Kayla Foster (Sheila) who leads the company in "Good Morning Starshine." Actually, the entire cast is charismatic. Each one, whether a soloist or part of the ensemble, makes a strong contribution to the production.

Of course, there is the famous/infamous nude scene at the end of act one, which here is practically non-existent. The tribe is demanding freedom and they emphasize this by disrobing. In the original production it was full-frontal nudity; here it is silhouetted against a dimly lit upstage window rendering the act tastefully meaningless.

Director Daisy Walker and choreographer Lisa Shriver move the fifteen member cast cross the stage and through the aisles of the theatre with imagination and an awareness of the style the show demands. There is no wasted movement; everything and everyone works in concert. All the "characters" have distinctive personalities that are emphasized by the costumes designed by Shane E. Ballard.

The lighting by Patricia M. Nichols enhances each moment of the show with color and the highlighting of specific areas. Jason Simms' set is relatively simple with an artistically painted wooden slatted floor, a ladder and various size and placed windows and curtains.

If you don’t mind being hit over the head with the shrill thematic intent of the show but want to see an indefatigable and winning cast, this is the place to revisit a colorful moment of American cultural and theatrical history.

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Hair by Gerome Ragni & James Rado(Book and Lyrics) Galt McDermot (Music)
Director by Daisy
Choreographer: Lisa Shriver
Music Director: Eric Svejcar
Cast: Kaie Birenboim (Crissy) Ariel Blackwood (Tribe) Shayna Blass (Tribe) Chance Brayman (Tribe) Andrew Cekala (Claude) Brandon Contreras (Berger) Latoya Edwards (Dionne) Kayla Foster (Sheila) Kristopher Saint Louis (Tribe) Livvy Marcus (Jeannie) Nick Pankuch (Tribe) Will Porter (Woof) Sarah Sun Park (Tribe) Aidan Wharton (Tribe) Eric R. Williams (Hud)
Scenic Design: Jason Simms
Lighting Design: Patricia M. Nichols
Costume Design: Shane E. Bullard
Sound Design: Nathan Leigh
Stage Manager: Chandalae Nyswonger
Running Time: Two hours; one intermission;
Berkshire Theatre Group, Unicorn Theatre, Stockbridge MA From 7/5/18; closing 8/11/18
Reviewed by Macey Levin at July 10 performance

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