For 40 years UC’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) has trained musical theater performers. The legendary musical Hair burst forth around the same time that CCM’s program began, so the “American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” is a perfect centerpiece for an anniversary celebration.
The CCM production is an eye-popping evening of psychedelia and historic social consciousness in addition to a showcase for the talent we’ve come to expect from this nationally respected program. From the opening chords of “Aquarius” to the tumultuous finale, “Let the Sunshine In,” this production, directed by program chair Aubrey Berg, is a tour de force.
There are moments when Berg’s staging of Hair might seem over-produced. The drug trip hallucination experienced by Claude (Brandon Yanez) in Act II features a series of surreal scenes involving Catholic nuns, Buddhist monks, astronauts, American presidents and more. What’s onstage is what the script calls for, and its can-you-top-this momentum builds and builds.
Members of the 34-performer “tribe” step out as individuals. In addition to Claude, there’s carefree Berger (Joe Moeller), sexy Sheila (Lexie Dorsett) and prophetic Ron (Melvin Logan, with several big vocals). There’s a loose story about Claude’s ambivalence toward military service and some conflict between Berger and Sheila over sexual issues. But Hair is mostly about the ensemble and the music, accompanied by a powerful 11-member Rock band.
In 1968, Hair was confrontational and obscene. It still is, although contemporary audiences will be far less shocked by the words and acts. But they are still in your face, and squeamish audience members should be prepared.
Hair is a great musical, presented by CCM with a depth of feeling and passion. The melodies will stick in your head. The youthful vitality onstage at Corbett Auditorium — demonstrating the treasure that the musical theater program represents — is a force to be reckoned with.
[Photo: Joe Moeller (front) and the cast of 'Hair.' Photo by Mark Lyons.]
HAIR, presented by the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, continues through Saturday at UC's Corbett Auditorium. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.