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Theater Review: Diane Paulus’ ‘Hair’

The energy is high but the hippies are higher at the Colonial Theatre, where an outrageously engaging production of “Hair” is staging one of the most delightful “be-ins” Boston has ever seen.

The energy is high but the hippies are higher at the Colonial Theatre, where an outrageously engaging production of “Hair” is staging one of the most delightful “be-ins” Boston has ever seen.

It’s 1967, the war is raging, and the free-thinking, free-spirited peaceniks are so busy making love, not war, that they’re completely oblivious to the impending blindside that welcomes them into adulthood. The angst-riddled youths experiment with drugs and newfound sexual expression as they navigate their way through the sinister, life-changing political climate.

Along the way, they engage in playful banter with the audience, tousle hair, bump, grind, sing, protest and get naked. Don’t worry, it’s all tastefully done and you can’t see anything unless you’re looking for it. (If you are, it’s at the end of Act I!)

Though the score boasts memorable songs like “Hair,” “Aquarius,” “Good Morning Starshine” and “Easy to be Hard,” the plot doesn’t fare quite as well. But director Diane Paulus finds the heart of each hippie and somehow their fear and emotional turbulence almost magically drive the story.

There’s “a whole haggle of hippie” running around the Colonial, and they appear to be having the times of their lives. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and their playful flirtatious breaking-down of the fourth wall makes everyone feel like they’re part of the show.

Though they are a tribe, two veterans of the Broadway production deliver exceptional performances. Steel Burkhardt is sheer delight as the show’s narrator Berger; Kacie Sheik makes you wonder if the Tony voters even saw her performance as Jeanie.

Sheik beautifully captures the sadness of unrequited love, but even more powerfully drives home the pain and anguish of Act II with a couple of simple strained notes in “Flesh Failures.”

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If you think the “Hair” tribe is having fun on- stage, see what happens during downtime on the aspiring YouTube sensation: Touring with Josh and Allison. Episode 3 is especially, ahem, revealing. Perhaps the series could use a cameo by a certain Metro reviewer?

 
 
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