Review: Hair – join the Be-in

For a group of actors that would only be a glimmer in their parent’s eyes during the 1960s, the energetic cast of Fighting Chance Productions’ Hair captures the free-spirited, counter-culture hippie movement with alarming ease and literally bare it all in this ambitious show.

First and foremost Hair is a historical piece – bringing us life in the 60s where free love was encouraged, drugs were used to explore our deepest realms and an anti-war machine that arguably goes unmatched today.  But it is also, at its most base level, a vivacious and jubilant piece of theatre that celebrates life with an unbridled optimism despite being set against a pretty horrendous time in American history.  And it is in this celebration where this young cast has found their footing.

There is no denying Hair is an ambitious project with 32 songs in its score and cast of 23 on stage.  While Sean Parsons, Michael Brock and the other leads do good jobs, this show really shines when all 23 members of the ensemble are on stage exuding an infectious and uninhibited enthusiasm, even to the point of stripping down naked at the end of act one.

The Cast of Fighting Chance Productions' Hair
The cast of the Fighting Chance Productions presentation of Hair.

Music Director Vashti Fairbairn has done a great job here working with the ensemble with such classics as “Aquarius” and “Good Morning Starshine”.  One of the highlights of the show was in the finale “Let the Sunshine In” where I found myself covered in goose bumps as this talented company sang of remembrance and ultimate optimism.

Director Ryan Mooney works hard with his large cast and while we are left with the impression that much of what we are seeing is somewhat of a free-for-all, it is far from unstructured.  Mooney does take some chances with moving his cast into the audience on a number of occasions but from my vantage point they all appeared committed to their interactions (something lesser productions are not always successful with).

Fighting Chance Productions was once again plagued by sound problems on opening night which unfortunately included the iconic “Aquarius” which opens the show and at times the cast was well aware of their cramped quarters, not sure where to go to avoid running into each other.  But happily these issues never distract us for too long from the unrestrained energy that permeates from the stage.

Liz Dubney’s costumes are spot-on, from the flared jeans to the floral print dresses giving a nod to their flower power time and Lighting Designer Mike Hewitt does some good work here with psychedelics and reds.

While the lions might be celebrating the circle of life over at the QE, the tribe at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island simply celebrates life during a time of intolerance and jingoism.

Join the Be-in and be part of Fighting Chance Productions’ own little summer of love.

3 1/2 of 5 Stars Hair
Waterfront Theatre
21 July – 1 August 2010

Tickets are $20 – $30 available at Tickets Tonight online or by calling 604.684-2787.

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