Looking for an outlet to exhume your late summer vibes? Look no further — The Lower Ossington Theatre brings Hair, the American love-rock musical to Toronto for a free-loving, peace-sharing experience you are bound to enjoy. Directed by Alan Kinsella, Hair is a cultural product created solely from the late 1960s anti-Vietnam war movement, strongly retelling the sexual revolution and hippie counterculture. With a highly recognizable title and vivaciously outstanding score, audiences are bound to leave the theatre screaming for sunshine, and possibly more.
The production begins on a triumphant, yet free, note and ends with a much stronger musical exeunt. As the production relies greatly on all musical numbers to relay the narrative, the Lower Ossington Theatre continues their streak with tremendous vocal strength and courage. Natasha Strilchuk’s choreography paralleled wonderfully with the music, emphasizing each note and providing continuous tribal movement throughout. However, throughout the numerous musical interludes and marvelous vocal moments, the plotline became shy and sometimes lost.
Although the production’s primary focus revolves around the group as a whole, the relationships between Berger (Erik Kopacsi), Claude (Carter Easler), Sheila (Sara Wilkinson), and Jeanie (Tanya Filipopoulos) were upstaged. The audience undoubtedly comes to comprehend the main interactions; however, I felt no empathy for the characters when trying to relate to their anti-war frustration and personal situations. Possibly too much THC? The tribe continually portrayed and enforced an array of themes including sexual freedom, race and religion. Applause hereby goes to the entire tribe for keeping the audience entertained with special mention to Luke Witt (Tribal Ensemble) and Mark Willett (Woof/Margaret Mead) for their authentic performances.
Should we care that the leads lost their narrative? After all, the tribe rapidly bounced back with embracive toe-tapping numbers. Should we care that the strongest anti-war and pacifist sentiments seemed to be missing with Claude? Hair is a rebellious rock musical. It took many risks at the time of its original premiere and it continually serves to educate audiences – the entertainment is merely a bonus. Standing ovation hereby goes to the tribe for their ability to cast light on the larger state, sexual, and social issues of the decade.
In terms of the design, the set’s unitary function worked. Scenic Designer Michael Galloro created an impeccable use of levels that were fully functional, and properly accommodated throughout. Although the focus was minimally smeared at times, Lighting Designer Mikael Kangas proves his colour knowledge all too well. Kathleen Black’s costume design was perfectly appropriate. Coming from a design perspective, many of the costume pieces seemed repetitive. While clothing was limited to the hippies –especially in circumstances where nudity was their emblem – the costumes appeared far too simple and unitarily constructed. Nonetheless, every technical aspect was spot on and served to make this production utterly enjoyable from beginning to end.
Hair is presented by the Lower Ossington Theatre to September 14th at the Randolph Theatre, 736 Bathurst Street. With tickets ranging in price from $39.99-$69.99, visit www.lowerossingtontheatre.com for tickets and more information.