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Hair

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Hair is a defining rock 'n roll musical from the 1960s. With book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni and music by Galt MacDermot, Hair took New York by storm, landing Off Broadway in 1967; it hit Broadway a year later and ran for 1,750 performances. It was restaged on the Great White Way in 2009, and it earned a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical.

Now through September 20, audiences can experience a homegrown version of Hair at Santa Ana's Mysterium Theater. In roughly two-hours, with nineteen performers coordinately choreographed by director Benjamin Alicea (Natasha Reese is credited as co-director), we are offered a whopping thirty-two songs in two acts (nineteen stylings in act one; thirteen in act two).

Though MacDermot’s music is prerecorded here, the singers lend live and lively vocals to the score. And while the interpretive qualities of the cast vary somewhat, there are some standout performers. Skyler Zurn, in the role of Shelia, for instance, lends a moving interpretation of "Easy to Be Hard," which brought visible tears to the eyes of a few audience members. Moreover, Zurn and the entire company give a rousing rendition of "Good Morning Starshine."

With period-pitched costuming by Pandora Spock, on an inventive set design by Eugene McDonald (with indispensible wig work by Cliff Senior and an excellent lighting motif by Haley Schwalbe) , we easily give over to the time and place as events surrounding a closely grouped gaggle unfold. Known as the “tribe,” these long-haired political activists – some might use the historic term hippie to describe them – demonstrate and agitate against military conscription and the war in Vietnam.

In the midst of the sexual revolution and in the middle of that antiwar battlefront, Claude (a vocally serviceable Alex Allen), his best buddy Burger (Winston Peacock in an scene-chewing characterization), and their live-in Shelia (the splendid Zurn) – along with their multitude of compatriots – grapple to come to terms with their relationship to one another, their duties as citizens, and their burgeoning coming-of-age. As if to focus attention and underscore the show’s theme of struggle and maturation during the suffering sixties, Hair begins and (nearly) ends with the chart-topper, "Aquarius," well performed by Zoe-Raven Stevens as the character Dionne.

Hair now stands as a period-piece of sorts, a relic of a time gone by. Unwieldy and barely contained within the margins of musical theater, creative impulse often outstrips craft in this Mysterium production. Nevertheless, for an exuberant blast-from-the-past Hair still maintains its style. Be warned, tasteful nudity is on view in this staging.

Hair continues at the Mysterium Theater, through September 20. The Mysterium Theater is located at 19211 Dodge Avenue, Santa Ana. Evening performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. Matinees are on Saturdays and Sundays at 4 p.m. For reservations call (714) 505-3454. For online ticketing and further information visit www.mysteriumtheater.com.

 

Spotlight

Laguna Playhouse Announces Ellen Richard as its Interim Executive Director

May 3, 2016…Laguna Beach, Calif…Laguna Playhouse Board of Directors announced today that, later this month, Ellen Richard will be joining Laguna Playhouse as its Interim Executive Director. The Playhouse announced late last year that it was undertaking a national search guided by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) for an Executive Director to succeed Karen Wood who had held this position for the past eight years.

Commenting on the appointment Joe Hanauer and Paul Singarella, Co-Chairmens of the Board of Directors, said “In the midst of our search we encountered this wonderful opportunity to engage Ellen while we continue to seek appropriate long-term leadership. To have found someone with the extraordinary qualifications that Ellen has is thrilling. She is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company where she was Managing Director. Ellen also has strong successes in supervising the construction of theatres in New York and also in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater, a rare and valuable skill set considering the contemplated major remodel and expansion of the Laguna Playhouse.” Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham adds, “We are pleased and proud to have Ellen Richard, truly a rock-star in our field, join us as our interim Executive Director who will help guide the Playhouse during this transition.” Comments Ellen Richard, “I have quickly grown fond of Laguna Beach and the Playhouse. I embrace this extraordinary opportunity to join one of the country’s top regional theatres at this time in its remarkable 95-year history. I look forward to helping the Playhouse and working with their incredible Board of Trustees and Ann E. Wareham.”

ABOUT ELLEN RICHARD

Ellen Richard served as Executive Director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 2010 through 2015.  During her tenure, Ms. Richard negotiated a deal to buy the Strand Theater in tech corridor of Mid-Market San Francisco, helped raise the $34,000 million to renovate and operate it and steered the design and construction for the project which opened in May of 2015. The complex featured two performance spaces and has won multiple awards.  She opened the 50 seat Costume Shop Theater, a 49-seat “black box” venue used for the company’s Master of Fine Arts students and for shows by other local companies.  Ms. Richard was also credited with expanding the company’s educational efforts, coming up with programs like the San Francisco Semester, which brings undergraduate acting students to ACT from around the world, and Stage Coach, a community theater mobile unit that reaches into diverse neighborhoods

She was also Executive Director of The Second Stage Theatre in New York City. During her tenure at Second Stage, which began in 2006 (through 2009), she was responsible for the purchase contract of the Helen Hayes Theatre, growth in subscription income of 48 percent, and growth in individual giving of 75 percent, as well as conceptualization of a highly successful gala format and “Second Generation,” a giving program through which donors enable deserving New York City youth to experience live theater. Under Ms. Richard’s leadership, Second Stage provided the initial home for the Broadway productions Everyday Rapture, Next to Normal, and The Little Dog Laughed.

From 1983 to 2005, Ms. Richard enjoyed a rich and varied career with Roundabout Theatre Company. The Roundabout that Ms. Richard joined was a small nonprofit theater company in bankruptcy. By the time she departed as Managing Director, Roundabout had become one of the country’s largest and most successful theater companies of its kind, with net assets in excess of $67 million dollars. Ms. Richard is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer, for Roundabout productions of Cabaret (1998), A View from the Bridge (1998), Side Man (1999), Nine (2003), Assassins (2004), and Glengarry Glen Ross (2005). As producer of more than 125 shows at Roundabout, she had direct supervision of all management and marketing functions. She created Roundabout’s “Theatre-PLUS” programs, which include singles, teachers, family, gay and lesbian, wine tasting, and the 7 p.m. “Early Curtain” series, all of which grew to represent more than 10 percent of Roundabout’s 40,000 subscribers.

As director of design and construction at Roundabout, Ms. Richard was responsible for more than $50 million of theater construction for 11 projects. She conceptualized the three permanent Roundabout stages — The Broadway venues of Studio 54 and the American Airlines Theatre, and the Off-Broadway venue The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre She directed the location search for Cabaret and oversaw the creation of the production’s environmental Kit Kat Klub. Prior to her tenure at Roundabout, Ms. Richard served as business manager of Westport Country Playhouse, theater manager for Stamford Center for the Arts, and business manager for Atlas Scenic Studio. She began her career working as a stagehand, sound designer, and scenic artist assistant.