It is rare when a show leaves such an impact that when I exit the theater I need to decompress for a while. This year two shows have struck me to my core. So much in fact, that I could not sleep afterward, causing me to toss and turn, so as to wrestle with the material presented. One this winter, in a negative way (which my friends know not to mention said show or I will give them my full opinion of what did not work) and the more recent piece I saw that 7th House Theater Collective’s production of “Hair” which left such an incredible imprint on my heart for the good. Words cannot describe the beautifully crafted art I saw, but I shall try.
“Hair” is an “American tribal love-rock musical” where themes of war, acceptance, peace and patriotism are explored. The hippie ensemble tribe works together throughout the show to guide us through 1968 where kids were burning draft cards and decidedly against fighting in the Vietnam War.
I chose to go on a Monday night because I knew there would be many actors in the audience and wanted to see how they would embrace the production. Thankfully, in Minnesota we have a group of actors who support one another and love to see each others work. As the show opened we were all asked to stand, face the large flag hanging on a side wall and sing the National Anthem. It may have been the most lovely rendition due to the harmonies in the crowd. The “tribe”, consisting of thirteen members were cast perfectly. For me, the play was not a show, it was an experience. My sister and I love finding pictures of people in their element and label them “living!” This show was two straight hours of that. The sweat dripping off of every person due to movement, emotion and excitement was “playing” at it’s finest.
Truth be told, I am not the biggest “Hair” fan by any means. Yes, I enjoy the music but the story never really hit home for me, that is, until I saw this production. It is clear now that the show should be done in a small space and the 514 warehouse building was the perfect venue for it. The audience was “in the round” on chairs, pillows on the floor and couches. Minimal props and set pieces were used which allowed the cast members to be the focus. Oh and yes, in case you are dying to know, there is a nude scene which was tastefully done by candlelight.
When David Darrow, who played Claude, sang “I Got Life” and “The Flesh Failures”, that throat-tightening, tears are about to flow feeling, rushed through me. He brought so much heart and emotion to the pieces there is no possible way you could have left the theater without being impacted. Cat Brindisi (Sheila) had wonderful voice control with an awesome belting tone. Every time I see her perform I can’t help but recognize, she’s a natural born actress. As noted above, the ensemble worked so well together I could go on for days about the tremendous job they did. Looking around at the other actors in the room you could see, they noticed the brilliance of what was taking place. This was something magical. Special recognition goes to Emily King for her choreography which was astonishing.
There is something to be said for young people to get together, create a theater group and pull off a fabulous show on their first try. “Hair” is one you do not want to miss. If I were able to, I would stand on the rooftop shouting its praises. Trust me, this is one that will leave a mark. For more information check out 7th House Theater Collective: https://www.facebook.com/7thHouseTheaterCollective