BWW Reviews: HAIR - The American Tribal Love Rock Musical at SoLuna
Hair - The American Tribal Love Rock Musical became one of my favorite shows when I saw the Tony winning revival in 2009 and then again in 2010. With that, one may have an unconscious hesitation when a local production of your favorite show is being mounted. No one should have that attitude and let me tell you, the cast at Soluna Studio in Hauppauge surely did not disappoint.
Karen Braun superbly directs - as well as choreographed, costumed, and designed the set - this theatre classic that runs through August 18th at the Long Island venue. The story follows a tribe of politically active hippies promoting community and love during the Vietnam Era - one of the many themes in this story. I particularly appreciated how the passionate and energetic cast was generally age appropriate as the Tribe is supposed to be in their late teens. Additionally, the entire show, created by James Rado, Gerome Ragni, and Galt MacDermot, seems to have been formatted to showcase each member of the cast.
For this production, Ms. Braun decided to add the role of Ronny that was seen in the original Broadway cast. Shaina Stroh wonderfully portrayed Ronny and beautifully performed the iconic opening number "Aquarius". Ms. Braun explained to me that she used Ronny as the "dream" and Dionne, stunningly portrayed by Alicia Bagley, as the "reality".
Also wonderful were Andrew Murano and Kevin Sweeney as Berger and Claude, respectively. They are best friends with Berger seemingly more politically active. Claude more struggles with the conflict of what his heart tells him is right and what the authorities around him lead him to believe. Mr. Murano and Mr. Sweeney had wonderful voices for the big score and both seemed to fit their roles well.
Gina Salvia delightfully portrayed Shelia, an NYU activist looking to change society through peaceful protest. She lives with Claude and Berger and is undoubtedly the most politically vocal and most intelligent of the Tribe. Ms. Salvia's passionate performance was on point and I would say that I occasionally heard the docile tones of Caissie Levy who portrayed Shelia in the Broadway revival.
Additionally, kudos to Nick Caron and Vinny Donnadio, the show's Music Director, who gave hilarious performances of Woof and Margaret Mead, respectively. Both of these roles seem to require an actor with extremely strong comedic skills and both men brilliantly delivered. The audience was in roars of laughter at their performances.
The theatre itself was adorable. It is a small space and the actors didn't even use microphones. At some points, this caused a few of the performers to get drowned out as the orchestra was behind the audience and the large cast was powerful. The small stage for this production was skewed with calico coloured blankets and a few large beach towels with peace signs to make a very psychedelic look. That description probably makes you think it looked odd, but it definitely worked.
So it seems that SoLuna has a hit on their hands with their showing of Hair - The American Tribal Love Rock Musical. An energetic and inviting cast and a thought provoking, historic, beautiful show make for a wonderful evening of theatre.
Hair - The American Tribal Love Rock Musical is presented by SoLuna Studio in Hauppauge, Long Island, through August 18th. Book & Lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, Music by Galt MacDermot, Direction & Choreography & Costumes & Set by Karen Braun, Musical Direction by Vinny Donnadio, Lighting and Sound Design by Megan Pietroforte, Pit Direction by Danny Passadino.