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Theatre Review (LA): Hair at the El Centro Theatre

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It’s remarkable just how kind time has been to Rado, Ragni and MacDermot’s Hair. Debuting in 1967 at New York’s Public Theater, it was an audience shocker with its antiwar stance and positive messages about racial integration and drug use, along with its daring onstage nudity.

The most striking aspect of seeing a production of the show today is that it hasn’t lost its anarchic edge. It’s still a vital work and, indeed,  many of the societal issues it raises are still with us.

But it’s also a fun show with a lot of terrific songs, and theTRIBE’s production at the El Centro Theatre in Hollywood keeps that attitude front-and-center, with its band of peace-loving, Manhattan street-living young hippies that makes sure to include the audience in its revelries.

The cast is virtually without fault. As the main characters, Christopher Chase (who also directs) is fine as Claude Bukowski, ably supported by Milo Shearer as a sly Berger, Tiffany Oliver as Sheila and Melanie Wahla as the very pregnant Jeanie. William Potter is fun as the mischievous, Jagger-obsessed Woof, and Dominyque Dickson-Thorpe is a sonic force to be reckoned with as Dionne, belting the title anthem.

Also outstanding are Marcel Hill, Patrick Batiste and LeVanna Atkinson-Williams, who provide a rollicking rendition of “Yes, I’s Finished on Y’all’s Farmland,” as well as Mary Grace Wilson, Zach Kaufer, Brianna McDonnell and Princess Eze (performing a charming “Frank Mills”). George Chavez does a hilarious drag turn as Margaret Mead, singing “My Conviction.”

Chase’s direction is on the mark, with Leanna Dindall’s superb choreography a definite highlight. There’s always a lot of activity onstage, but it all seems smooth and well thought-out. The company has added a short, amusing “flash-forward” that actually works quite well and the song “Electric Blues” is not in this production, but otherwise the show is presented in its classic form. Everyone is having fun…and it gives the audience a great contact high.

Hair plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 6 p.m. at the El Centro Theatre, 804 N. El Centro, Hollywood, through June 24. Reservations can be made online or by calling (323) 960-4418.

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About Kurt Gardner

Writer, critic and marketing expert whose passion for odd culture knows no bounds.