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August 21,  2004

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T H E A T E R   R E V I E W  -  Hair  -  Knightsbridge Theatre

 
        

Spirited Cast at the Knightsbridge

LOS ANGELES, CA - The Knightsbridge Theatre  is currently up and running with the musical Hair, the Broadway template for the draft card bra burning long haired hippy freak 60's where free love and acid trips were all we needed to free the world itself. The show was a sellout at the reviewed performance and the audience was ready to join in with the age of Aquarius and let their own collective hair down. The reprise of this time honored hit has almost everything you need; a cast that abounds with innocence, youth and energy, a tight band that backs the company with professional sway, and a great sound when the ensemble all sings in unison. The only time the show misses the mark is when it's lead characters don't realize this is the kind of theater where they can be larger than life and give the show it's full meaning.

One of the creators of Hair, James Rado, said of the original 1968 show, "We wanted to create something new, something different, something that translated to the stage the wonderful excitement we felt in the streets."

The show provides many opportunities for it's entire cast to recreate that excitement, but the pivotal roles of Berger, Claude, Sheila are on creative point for the production, with the roles of Jeanie and woof close behind.

Megan Kay as Jeanie is terrific. A good girl bad girl flower child spirit who sings out so the audience can hear every word and never for a moment drops character while she is blending in with the ensemble. (She could coach others in this area). Atticus Batacan, as Woof, does double duty as he is also the shows choreographer. There were a few times Batacan went over the line into theatrics and mugging but for the most part he was an electric live wire who filled the stage - It was no easy task to work with such a large cast but the show is infused with his vision, and the cast carries it out to the letter.

The Tribe yields other shining stars as well including Ana Ortiz and her entire performance, especially when the show grow quiet and she sits close to the audience to sing "Frank Mills". Sarah Marina Ali as Dionne is a powerhouse voice and talent who elevates everything to a different level when the focus is on her, creating another tutorial performance.

Jonathan Zenz, as Berger, sings well and moves well but has some difficulty imbuing his role with everything he could character wise. Rene Guerrero as Claude has great character work and stage presence but at times get completely swallowed up vocally. Ina Barron has a beautiful voice and is very easy on the eyes, but again I wanted to see some more of her character as Sheila. She hits her stride the best when she is singing and "Easy to Be Hard" was fantastic.

The Ensemble is solid and dedicated to continuing the string of hits at The Knightsbridge, although some of the creative decisions to incorporate modern day references in the play were to throw-away to be part of an updated version of the musical which would have been a great idea.

Director Peter Finlayson really helped the piece come alive and does a great job with the large, talented and spirited cast, coaching the most out of his leads. Musical director Kyle Puccia really sizzles with a terrific band that does the almost impossible job of working to not overpower his cast when his band is amplified and they are not. Costumes by award winner Ann Closs-farley keep the mood and the love flowing as they should and overall the ensemble transports us with the feeling that was that time and allows their entire audience to let the sunshine in! - Kevin Kindlin

    

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