Review: AU Players’ performance of “Hair”

Student theater group puts on moving performance depicting a troubled time

Upon walking into the Katzen Arts Center theater, audience members were immediately transported to the turbulent times of the late 1960s, with flower power peace signs hanging in every direction. The front row of the audience sat on colorful pillows as the lights dimmed to an interactive performance of “Hair.”

The AU student theater group AU Players performed a touching, relevant and talented performance of “Hair” this weekend. The production, while graphic at times, provided an overall feeling of love and acceptance through its upbeat and emotional musical and dance numbers.

The story takes place near the end of the 1960s in a war-torn America, where a tribe of hippies unite in New York City in search of peace, love and happiness. The overarching conflict and fight within the musical is the fear of being drafted to the Vietnam War, which the tribe protests through musical and sexual revolution. The main character, Berger, (junior William Peters) is the first to be seen onstage and broke the fourth wall the most often during the production, coming face to face and at points almost touching the audience members during his moving monologues and solos. He had the absolute most energy as well as most powerful voice onstage.

Many of the characters expressed feelings of uncertainty for their future, coming from all different backgrounds, as well as the future of the country. However, the character Claude, (freshman Drew Bondy) faced the most social pressure. Claude brought forth the conflict in the production having been one to receive an army draft, and willingly left to fight for his country.

Bondy and Peters together were a force to be reckoned with. Both had the most powerful stage presence, not dropping character for a slight second. While the ensemble together lacked power and volume in the big musical numbers, these two gave the strongest presences.

The power in the show’s musical numbers may have lacked, but they were made up for with the impressive choreography in the dance numbers. For a show with themes of freedom and liberation, the dance numbers remained structured and creative while balancing a representation of the messy feelings characters had at the time.

The ensemble was able to be free and make the stage their own, while remaining organized in their major dances. The most impressive of all were the amount of solos in the performance, which properly showcased much of the new freshman talent. Ensemble members like Grace Walker and Sophie Paynter stood out brilliantly in their solos as Jeannie and Sheila, and have so much potential continuing in musical theatre.

The performance of “Hair” was incredibly moving and rather relatable in its depiction of a time with such a divided country. Where the ensemble voices lacked volume and energy, the dance numbers and solo performances were impressive. More so, the characters of Berger and Claude stole the show with their strong sense of character and powerful presence.

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