Review Roundup: ATC's HAIR with Sky Seals, Zach Kenney and More

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Review Roundup: ATC's HAIR with Sky Seals, Zach Kenney and More

ATC''s production of HAIR, directed by Artistic Director PJ Paparelli with musical direction by Austin Cook runs through June 29 at ATC, 1909 W Byron Ave, Chicago.

The production features Sky Seals (Berger), Zach Kenney (Claude), Ella Raymont (Sheila), Aaron Holland (Hud), Camille Robinson (Dionne), Christian Libonati (Woof), Mary Hollis Inboden (Jeanie), and Rachael Smith (Crissy). "The Tribe" is Liz Bollar, Candace Edwards, Gregory Geffrard, Addison Heimann, Cassandra Nelson, Travis Portia (Dance Captain), and Matt Thinnes.

Let's see what the critics had to say:

Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune says: The physical production, created by Keith Pitts, is a real stunner. You feel very much like you are in some appropriated East Village warehouse. If you know the old industrial space this company occupies, you'll find yourself confused as to where you are in the building. Better yet, Pitts has created an externality to the design, a real rarity with "Hair." People can leave the tribal nest and go out in the wide world, or watch from the street outside. And Sheila - the costume designer Brittney Dee Bodley dresses the actress Ella Raymont in a three-way combination of business suit, love-in attire and combat gear - now can actually arrivefrom somewhere (Washington, where she was met with tear gas), all fired up. Once Sheila is back with her friends, the forces of antagonism can peer at the goings on through frosted glass, threatening to attack at any moment.

Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun-Times says: Zach Kenney radiates a sweetness and light that grab your heart as Claude, the kid from Flushing, Queens, swept up in the British Invasion, and anguished about whether to burn his draft card or be shipped off to Vietnam. Sky Seals is the high school dropout with a sharper edge. Ella Raymont is Sheila, the university student who gets roughed up at the March on the Pentagon. Christian Libonati plays the pothead with a crush on Mick Jagger. Mary Hollis Inboden is the pregnant girl infatuated with Claude. And Aaron Holland is a Huey Newton-like member of "The Tribe" that also includes Camille Robinson, Rachel Smith and seven others. Jane Strauss has a hilarious cameo as anthropologist Margaret Mead.

Hugh Iglarsh of the NewCityStage says: Just like they sing it in the title song, "Hair" is indeed "fuzzy, snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty, ... bangled, tangled and spaghettied." But for all of its loose-jointed, self-indulgent raggedness, it remains the classic theatrical expression of its cultural moment. And even a crewcut Teabagger would find it hard not to dig American Theater Company's vibrant revival of Gerome Ragni's, James Rado's and Galt MacDermot's "American Tribal Love Rock Musical." Superbly cast and lovingly directed by PJ Paparelli (assisted by JR Sullivan), with expert musical guidance by Austin Cook, this production harkens back to the show's roots as a street-theater-inspired experiment, conceived by two working actors and staged in a cozy East Village space far from the lights of Broadway.

Kris Vire of Time Out Chicago says: Most jarring, though-and in a good, jolting way-is the end of the first act. The group protest and "Be-In" climaxes not in a happy celebration of beads, flowers, freedom and full-frontal nudity, but in a violent police raid. It's appropriate that ATC's fresh look at Hair opens in the same week that the Inconvenience's Stonewall riot Hit the Wall , which shows a more dangerous side of embracing counterculture in the same era, returns to a Chicago stage. Both shows take place in the Village, just months apart; the riots in Chicago's Grant Park occurred in the interim. While Paulus'sHair had the threat of Vietnam and the draft as its looming specter, Paparelli's production provides a reminder that flower power could be both a provocation toward and a poor shield against more localized enemies.

Dan Zeff of Chicagoland says: The ATC production is also something of a voyage of discovery for the older spectators, myself included, who were present more than four decades ago and were thrilled by "Hair" and what it stood for. ATC director P. J. Paparelli (with assistance from J. R. Sullivan) hasn't settled for a nostalgia trip back to the original production. Paparelli states that he has gone back to the basic "Hair," before it became a huge Broadway hit. The show includes several musical numbers not in the Broadway and road versions and delivers a darker, edgier, more intense viewing experience without sacrificing the show's humor, self-mocking satire, and free wheeling energy.

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