July 16 - August 8, 2010
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At the dawn of a new age in America, comes a tribute to the timeless Age of Aquarius. Whether it's curly, fuzzy, nappy, shaggy, wavy or braided, HAIR is the glorious granddaddy of rock musicals. Full of some of the greatest tunes ever written for the stage, HAIR will take us back to the Summer of Love with its high-spirited anthems against war, bigotry, and the establishment.
Local song, dance and comedy icon Ray Jivoff joins us for his Playhouse directorial debut on HAIR! Expect big surprises from this kinetic performer/director!
Contains adult language and mature themes.
Plus, new this season, join us for Kroupa's Fish Fry Friday in our Studio Theater prior to our final Friday performance during the run of HAIR! Elm Grove's own Kroupa's Family Cafe and Catering serves up a delicious fish fry for an affordable price, and The Playhouse finishes off your night with a super show! It's a great night of dining and entertainment that won't break the bank. (Call our Box Office at (262)782-4430 to reserve your spot for Fish Fry Friday today!)
"What a piece of work is HAIR!"
In the summer of 1968, the Democratic National Convention tried to carry on business as usual while vilifying their host, Mayor Richard Daley, as Grant Park exploded in violence when protestors collided with the Chicago Police Force. College campuses across our nation were seeing black s...tudents rising up and seizing school property to prove that if they couldn't get respect, they'd settle for fear. I was 17 years old that fall and entering Northwestern University where black students had taken the finance building hostage. I remember one night in my dorm when someone was playing "Prisoners in Niggertown! It's a dirty little war!" from the Broadway soundtrack and almost started an incident on our floor. Within two years, I would have joined the student body to strike against the war in Cambodia and shut NU down. HAIR was born in controversy and now it's a national treasure. Sunset Playhouse's production powered by apparently nuclear energy, was vocally stunning in ways that are uncharacteristic of the mussy vocals HAIR is known to tolerate, and assembled an ensemble of talent that was thrilling to watch despite the irony that most of the people in the audience, including your faithful servant, had clothing older than these kids. There's a lot of jumping around and sitting and listening to each other sing. The play demands a lot of this as the score segues one song into another. Thus, HAIR can become an orgy of songs that inundates the audience like a saiche and becomes a high decibel flatline. Sunset's HAIR, under Ray Jivoff's direction, rises above this problem by giving the musical a dramatic, even tragic, foundation as the story of Claude and Berger was emphasized with silences and stillnesses that contrasted with the hurricane movement, achieved with indefatigable effort by choreographer Sarah Wilbur Price, and the hot rocks coming from the orchestra, directed by Donna Kummer who continues with HAIR to deliver consistently hi-pro quality music to Milwaukee audiences with great care for detail as in all of her musical endeavors. As we fell in love with Claude, we could feel the encroachment of the fate that would eventually claim him in Cambodia. The emphasis on story in this production gave the second act more than just a musical climax. The Tribe was remarkable. Their youthful vigor permeated the house. I haven't seen such a symbiotic ensemble, eagerly dependent on one another, since the theatre of the late sixties that shunned stars and praised communal production. They were funny, poignant, irreverent, well-paced and powerful. They all had clear, muscular voices, but some performances deserve indication. Zack Woods is such a fucking Berger. High and spinning, ricocheting around the stage like a bullet in a safe. His voice was in control as he did not sacrifice articulation to rock. Ryan Stajmiger made us truly care about the doomed Claude as he was beguiling in humor and believable in conflict. Ashley Levells' stupefying contralto opened the musical by hurling the entire audience back through a Time Tunnel with her vocal richness and complete involvement in her song. "Aquarius" became The Word. Stuart Mott's silly-ass Woof won our hearts when he said that he was not homosexual but he wanted to fuck Mick Jagger. There is no back wall remaining in Sunset's Theatre because Hanna Gaffney's voice went right through it. Good question: "How can people be so heartless?" What pipes! We winced when Berger slapped hell out of her before her solo. Jacob Bach walked on stage in a frumpy coat, put the show in his pocket, and walked off with it. His Margaret Meade was too funny for words. When Katherine Duffy sang "Frank Mills," her pretty voice and big brown eyes made us believe she didn't have a brain in her baby doll head. Sherrick Robinson's "Colored Spade" delivered scary lyrics with aggression and insolence, but somehow he never disenfranchised the audience from Hud. He was black and pissed and charming. Quite a juggling act. I could go on. Theatre in the United States, as the director says in ALL ABOUT EVE, does not exist solely in a square mile of an island in the northeast, nor downtown in the Hog Butcher of the World. Surely it thrives there and finds fame. But the beating heart of American theatre is a regional tympani. Sunset delivers quality, engaging theatre and deserves our support. I'm a better actor for having worked there myself. I asked Artistic Director Mark Sallentine if he was mad when he told me that they were planning to mount HAIR. I never thought Sunset's audience would tolerate "Emanci-motherfuckin'-pator of the slaves. Yeah yeah yeah!" They didn't tolerate it; they adored it. They lapped it up like cream. Mark, I was mistaken. And if you miss HAIR, so are you. See you in the dark.
HAIR - A Revelation
I was fortunate enough to have been present for the opening night of this outstanding production. The strength of the performance moved and touched audience members to tears, with myself sobbing even in the lobby afterward. The pertinence of this show in today's socio-political climate is obvious. With our armed forces fighting overseas in a conflict that has dramatically divided our nation, the subject of war in a time of social entropy and personal liberation is a profound juxtaposition that reaches its gritty fingers into your soul and shakes you to attention. In addition to the subject matter, the singing, acting, choreography, set design, light design, and accompanying musicians were all top-notch. HAIR is a show that is difficult to impress audience members with, because they know it and love it. However, despite the challenge presented to the Sunset Playhouse, they enthralled the audience with the opening number and captured their attention and imagination throughout both acts of the show, leading up to the climactic finish that is bound to move anyone with a pulse. This is was made apparent when I witnessed audience members purchasing additional tickets for later performances during the intermission. Follow their lead, and buy tickets immediately. If you can take even half as much as I did from the performance, you'll be more than glad you did. I can easily award this performance five stars in good conscience.
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Cast of Characters (In alphabetical order)
Steve/Margaret Meade......Jacob Bach
Assistant Conductor/Guitar......Jay Kummer
Bass Guitar......Dave Magoon, Ian Haegle
Trumpet......Scott Schrank, Dereck Schrank, Andy Brinza, Andy Buck
Sax, Flute, Clarinet......Becky Hineman, Dave Erato
Musical Director......Donna Kummer
Choreographer......Sarah Wilbur Price
Stage Managers......Lukas Condie, Stephanie Lesko
Assistant Director......Jane Engelking-Heer
Assistant Stage Manger......Maureen Henderson
Scenic Designer/Technical Director......J. Michael Desper
Lighting Designer......Alan Piotrowicz
Sound Designer......Jan Pritzl
Costume Designer......Rey Dobeck
Properties MIstress......Sami Williams
Scene Shop Coordinator......Pat Westen