Showing posts with label Hair. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hair. Show all posts

Saturday, August 12, 2017

REVIEW: "HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical" at Mercury Theater Through 9/17

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

**As I'm recovering from major knee surgery, Cath Hellmann will be guest reviewing for me throughout August. Cath is a lifelong theatre lover, on stage, directing, and in the audience. She's an English teacher, mom of three, and elated to be living in Chicago again, after a 10 year stint in the wilds of rural Michigan near Kalamazoo. **

Photo Credit for all: Brett A. Beiner

Guest Review by Cath Hellmann

On the way into the charming and intimate Mercury Theater, I spot a couple of anti-Trump buttons. It is an instant reminder that a hippie musical which premiered fifty years ago with its message of love, anti-war sentiment, and feeling disenfranchised from one's government is still sadly relevant today. In fact, a couple of the actors in their bios encourage the audience to support the ACLU or other causes in these troubling times.  

Even with its political intent, "HAIR" is a hell of a great experience at the theater with impressive singing, familiar songs you didn't think you knew, and exuberant performances, particularly by Matthew Keefer as Berger and Evan Tyrone Martin as Hud.

The transport back to the era of the late sixties begins immediately when an usher walks down the aisle bearing a sign with the requisite "turn your cell phone off" direction instead of a house manager announcing the rules. A lone woman with a large afro appears in the balcony singing about "When the moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligns with Mars, then peace will guide the planets..." Suddenly the rest of the cast bursts in from the backstage door to join her in "The Age of Aquarius." ("They look like they just got back from Bonnaroo," my Mexican-Hippie-Music Lover-Companion [permission was suggested and granted for this nickname] whispers.  

When "HAIR" opened on Broadway in April 1968, it ran for an astonishing 1,750 performances. A Broadway revival in 2009 earned a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for 2009 Best Revival of a Musical. TIME magazine stated in 2008 that "HAIR seems, if anything, more daring than ever." Indeed, one of the songs, "Sodomy," has the lyrics:  "Sodomy, Fellatio, Cunnilingus, Pederasty—Father, why do these words sound so nasty? Masturbation can be fun."  Hmmm...I had season tickets to Lyric Opera for a decade and never read anything close to that in the super titles.  

The plot of "HAIR" is rather thin, with the exception of Claude, played by Liam Quealy, torn over the peer pressure to burn his draft card or please his parents by being shipped off. One of the most affecting lines in the entire show is: "We're all Vietnam Bait." (Another modern tie-in: my teenage son's friend just joined the Marines. As his mother said, "I wouldn't be so worried if Obama was still in office." Parents are still scared for the safety of their children over our leader's political mistakes and hubris.)  

The music, performances, and message drive the show. Matthew Keefer's sexy portrayal of Berger is such fun to watch, as he kisses both genders, strips down to his loincloth, and sings about peace and love. Lucy Godinez, who was so poignant in Porchlight Music Theatre's "In the Heights," delivers as another effective character, the naïve and pregnant Jeanie. In an additional eerie display of timeliness, Hud, played by Evan Tyrone Martin, warns in "Colored Spade," confronting racial stereotypes, "And if you don't watch out, the boogie man will get you. Boo!" 


"HAIR" is known for its groovy costumes, drug references, nudity, rebelliousness, preaching love, and community. The ensemble at Mercury does not disappoint; when the entire group first raised their voices in unison, I got goosebumps. Such power from a small but mighty group of performers was inspiring.  At the end of Act I, when the cast strips down, the display of colored lights keeps the display of skin fairly hidden. Or as my surprised companion hissed, "I've never seen so many tits and dicks onstage!"   

Great singing, fabulous energy, a positive message of love and acceptance, "tits and dicks onstage." "HAIR," running at the Mercury Theater at 3745 N. Southport Avenue, through September 17, has it all. Read more here. Bring your friends for an exciting outing of theater. Maybe leave the kids and Grandma at home to watch Lawrence Welk. Peace out.  

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

Mercury Theater Chicago Casting Announcement 
July 27 – September 17, 2017

**Note: The production contains scenes that briefly depict 
profanity, nudity and simulated drug use.** 

Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 N. Southport Avenue – is pleased to announce the cast of HAIR: THE AMERICAN TRIBAL LOVE-ROCK MUSICAL, playing from July 27 through September 17. Press opening is Thursday, August 3rd at 8:00pm. 

A celebration of 50 years since the 1967 “Summer of Love”, HAIR will inspire audiences to “let the sun shine in” and stand up for what they believe in. This rousing rock musical will be led by Jeff Award Winners Brenda Didier (Director) and Eugene Dizon (Musical Director) with choreography by Christopher Carter.  A talented cast of Chicago artists featuring Matt Keffer and Liam Quealy will take the stage in this celebration of love, life, and freedom. 

In the year 1967, a group of young hippies in Greenwich Village explore sex, love, and rock ‘n’ roll while fighting for civil rights and the end of the Vietnam War. A passionate cry for hope and change, HAIR defined one generation and continues to inspire today. To an infectiously energetic rock beat, the show wows audiences with songs like "Aquarius," "Good Morning Starshine," "Hair," "I Got Life," and "Let The Sun Shine In." Exploring ideas of identity, community, global responsibility and peace, HAIR remains relevant as ever as it examines what it means to be a young person in a changing world.

HAIR brought the passion and revolution of the late 1960s to audiences around the world. After an off-Broadway debut in October 1967, the show opened on Broadway in April 1968 and ran for 1,750 performances. Since then, numerous productions have been staged around the world. Some of the songs from its score became Top 10 hits, and a feature film adaptation was released in 1979. A Broadway revival opened in 2009, earning rave reviews and winning the Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for 2009 Best Revival of a Musical. In 2008, Time magazine wrote, "Today HAIR seems, if anything, more daring than ever."

HAIR was written by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, with music by Galt MacDermot. The scenic design is by Jeffry Kmiec with costume design by Robert Kuhn, lighting design by Nick Belley, sound design by Carl Wahlstrom and properties design by Mealah Heidenreich. The production stage manager is Kristi J. Martens with assistance by Hannah Wichmann.

HAIR will feature video projections designed by Peter Guither, Artistic Director of The Living Canvas, which will tell compelling stories with performers’ bodies clothed with the textures of projected images. The Living Canvas celebrates the beauty and expressive power of the human form through performance art and photography, nurturing a sense of body acceptance for performer and audience. It is spectacle and storytelling, utilizing creative lighting, sound, and multi-media imagery that interact with the human canvas. 

After an extensive casting process, Mercury Theater Chicago is pleased to introduce a talented cast of Chicago artists featuring 
Matt Keffer as “Berger” 

and Liam Quealy as “Claude.” 

The tribe will also include Caleb Baze, Chuckie Benson, Aaron Davidson, Candace C. Edwards, Lucy Godinez, Michelle Lauto, Miciah Long, Andrew Lund, Mallory Maedke, Evan Tyrone Martin, Cherise Thomas, Leryn Turlington, Marco Tzunux and Craig Underwood.

Michelle Lauto

The beautifully renovated Mercury Theater Chicago is an intimate jewel box of a theater in the heart of the Southport Corridor, a sophisticated neighborhood of restaurants and boutiques just steps from Wrigley Field. A delightful theater destination, Mercury Theater Chicago takes care of its guests from the moment they arrive with valet service and dining at its adjoining restaurant, Grassroots. 

The performance schedule for HAIR is Wednesdays at 8pm, Thursdays at 8pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm and Sundays at 3pm. 

HAIR runs approximately 2 hours, 10 minutes. We recommend this production for theatergoers over the age of 12. The production contains scenes that briefly depict profanity, nudity and simulated drug use. 

Individual tickets range from $30-$65, and are available online at, over the phone at 773.325.1700, or in person at 3745 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

ACT OUT CLOSING: American Idiot #review

American Idiot is Hair for the next generation.   There's a lovable band of misfits, a tragic enlistment storyline, 

drug use, an inditement of capitalist America, and a celebration of individuality. 

We also dug the side thread about the accidental pregnancy and the social commentary on how much having an infant changes your rock n roll lifestyle.

With a rockin' sound track of Greenday hits, Two Tony Awards, and a 2010 Grammy for Best Musical Show Album, it's certainly worth catching.    Chicago's own Northwestern student, Alex Nee, stars.

There's even some fun, wire work!

Of course there are theatre fanatics out there who will only see the A list celeb Broadway shows, but we've seen some seriously sweet touring shows that just blew through town for a week or two.   The sets and costumes are still top notch and despite the fact that there aren't huge draw, famous names in the cast, there's certainly talent and charm.    The touring shows have heart, youthful energy, and the glitz and drama Broadway musicals are renowned for.

It's always a treat to see a show at the ornate Cadillac Palace.   My kids like to play rorschach test with the marble walls and find hidden creatures.   Their fav is "the elephant" at the top of the stairs to the basement in the front, left side of the lobby.

Tickets start at just $18 and half price day of show tickets, or discounts through Hot Tixs or Goldstar are often available.

So go already.


American Idiot
Theatre : Cadillac Palace Theatre, Chicago Illinois
Dates : April 16, 2013 - April 21, 2013
Winner of two Tony Awards® and a Grammy Award® for Best Musical Show Album, AMERICAN IDIOT features the music of Green Day with the lyrics of its lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong. The book is by Armstrong and Michael Mayer and direction is by Tony Award®-winner Mayer (Spring Awakening). 

AMERICAN IDIOT is the story of three boyhood friends, each searching for meaning in a post 9/11 world. Through incredible spectacle, thrilling performances and with the hope embodied by a new generation, AMERICAN IDIOT has given audiences the time of their lives night after night since its Broadway run at the St. James Theatre and its critically acclaimed national tour, which returns to Chicago this Spring after a critically acclaimed 10-week run in the UK.

Ticket prices are $18 to $85.

Groups of 10+ on sale now! Call 312-977-1710

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