The latest franchise in the Hair chain opened for business last night at the refurbished Moore theater - and a pox on the company astrologer.
For it was she who decided on the opening date and as a result this "tribe" had the shortest time for preparation of any of the Hair productions around the world.
And sometimes it shows. Even though the cast displays an engaging exuberance that infuses the show with a continual glow of life, some of the well-planned spontaneity and light-heartedness still have rough edges. The carefully mechanized choreography of this production has not yet been worked to the point where the mechanization doesn't show.
But even though the show doesn't have the smoothness that it should yet, it no doubt will come because the young, handsome cast is well stocked with talent and drive.
In fact, it's the tribe that makes this Hair. From the hissing, whistling, tempting opening number of "Aquarius" to the solos that the various members of the tribe perform, its really their show. They give it its overall charm and its individual delights.
Rooth Dye's song "Frank Mills", karen Gardener's "Air", and Tyrone Miles' strutting, proud, funky portrayal of Hud, and Debbie Walker, Alice Campbell and Michael Rhone's send up of the Supremes give the show its best moments.
And when things pick up, when they're really moving, it's because the tribe's gotten into it. When they start pushing out "Hare Krishna" or "Kama Sutra" or "Good Morning Starshine", the power from the stage is overwhelming. It seemed impossible, but the Northwest has produced a tribe to match any other production, at least the ones I've encountered in New York and London.
For that reason it's unfortunate that the leads in this Hair are less exciting, less talented than some of the members of the tribe.
Skip Bowe's Claude, for instance, seems separated from the rest of the cast, rather aloof. His singing voice is unexciting and he is not an effective actor.
Janis Gotti is delightful to look at as Sheila for she has strong features and a beautiful body but her singing is not up to the rigors of her big number "Easy To Be Hard" and she is limited as an actress.
Eric Miller is better as berger because he brings so much excitement to the role, but he lets it wane a little as things go on. he also has a tendency to shout rather than sing.
The band sounded very good last night with some fine work on guitar and wind instruments. The lighting and sound are very good and the Moore, perhaps Seattle's best theater, never looked better.
The opening last night was full of celebrities and glitter with the mayor, several members of the City Council and other city officials noticeable in front. None of them flinched during the well publicized nude scene in which almost all the members of the cast participated. And there wasn't any subdued lighting, either.
This Hair must be the most exciting musical this city has seen for some time, surely a new experience for Seattle theater. Its good to see the Moore alive again and with such a life-giving, pulsating show.
Given the swift changes that have come about, Hair no
longer speaks for a generation (if it ever did) but it is interesting theatrically
and a milestone of musical theater. Joe Donovan, who largely put
together this production, performed a miracle with his cast, making them
show talents that would stand up on broadway. The Seattle Hair can
compare with the best of them. But too bad the prices are like Broadway,