Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay

Bay Area Musicals
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Richard's recent review of Dirty Dancing and Patrick's recent review of Arches, Balance and Light

Rotimi Agbabiaka
Photo by Ben Krantz
Bay Area Musicals, our newest musical theatre company in the Bay Area, is presenting for its second musical of the season, Hair at the Victoria Theatre through March 12. Let's face it, Hair is more than just a musical; it's a social and cultural phenomenon. It's a wonderful spectacular recreating the cry of protests against the Vietnam War in the late 1960s. I first saw this musical at the Biltmore Theatre with the original cast in 1968 and later at the Aquarius Theater in Los Angeles. I was blown away each time. The excellent Bay Area Musicals production, with a talented young cast of actors/singers, brought back many memories of those turbulent years in American history.

The fragile storyline conceived by Gerome Ragni and James Rado focuses on Claude (Jeffrey Brian Adams), son of uptight parents who want him to join the real world of work and military induction. Instead, he becomes part of a free-love happy tribe and becomes caught up in a three-way relationship with the political Sheila (Ally Reardon) and the anarchic Berger (Jepoy Ramos). Torn between his group loyalty and his inherited beliefs, Claude fails to dodge the draft.

This production retains the optimism of the 1960s. This is done several ways, by breaking down the barriers between the stage and theatre. For example, actors come down from the stage and sing directly to the audience. Above all, Jon Tracy and music director Jon Gallo give full importance to Galt MacDermot's 40 songs with lyrics by Ragni and Rado, some numbers being better than others. Once again, "Aquarius" and "Let the Sunshine In" are robustly sung by the cast.

Jeffrey Brian Adams as Claude, Ally Reardon as Sheila, and Jepoy Ramos as the shaggy stoned Berger are outstanding in their roles. Adams is pitch perfect singing "Manchester, England," "I Got Life," and "Hair." Ramos has strong vocal cords singing "Donna," "Going Down," and "Don't Put It Down," while Alley Reardon shines with her vibrant voice on "Easy to Be Hard" and "Good Morning Starshine." Benjamin Nguyen rocks singing "Sodomy" as does Rotimi Agbabiaka on "I'm Black/Ain't Got No" with great back-up by Benjamin Nguyen and Katrina McGraw. Adrienne Walters gives a beautiful rendition of "Frank Mills."

Matthew McCoy's choreography is fantastically energy driven. Hippie costume excesses are in full psychedelic mode here, thanks to Pasquale Spezzano. Hair is performed on the bare stage with great lighting by Jon Tracy, who also directs the production. His direction is sharp and incisive.

Hair runs through March 12, 2016, at the Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th Street, San Francisco. Tickets are available at 415-340-2207 or on line at Coming up next for Bay Area Musicals is La Cage aux Folles opening at the Victoria Theatre on July 9 and running through July 30.

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