REVIEW: "Hair" at the Athenaeum

July 11, 2014
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

There are worse problems to have in theater than an audience so enthusiastic about what they are seeing and hearing that their hooting and hollering dampens the emotional impact of the end of your show. But that’s what happened when I caught Bobdirex production of “Hair,” playing at the Athenaeum through July 20.

Yes, there are moments when this “Hair” knocks the vocals out of the park—in Craig Underwood’s joyful “My Conviction,” in Claire Wilcher’s “Easy to Be Hard,” and in the Tribe’s “Three-Five-Zero-Zero” and “The Flesh Failures,” to name just a few. Its onstage band—led by Trevor Fanning (doing double duty as both music/vocal director)—is terrific and I was lucky enough to see the show on a night when music from the Athenaeum’s biergarten wasn’t competing with the production.

But “Hair” is more than a concert. And director Bob Harbin’s cast and crew brought more than just great sound. One of the challenges of the show is that, for maximum effect, personalities have to pop on stage. The actors aren’t given pages of script to work with to create their characters. Yet rather than being background players, I felt a familiarity even with some of the nameless members of the tribe (among them Arianne Villareal, Julie O’Mara, and Tawj Monroe).

All photos are by Rick Randjelovic

I also was pleased to see that Harbin didn’t try to fit his lead actors into pre-existing molds. For instance, Lincoln Slentz’s Berger came across less pushy and more stoner than I’ve seen him before. That partly stems from Harbin’s choice to, for the most part, keep his tribe out of the audience. But it also comes from allowing Slentz to bring his own interpretation of Berger to the table.

By not putting Berger in the driver’s seat, the tribe seemed more a gang of approximate equals, leaving room for the wonderfully present Tyler Ostrander (as Woof) and the playful Rashida Bonds (as Dionne) to have more time at the core of the action than is usually the case.  Wilcher’s Sheila doesn’t confine her “Easy to Be Hard” sadness to her solo—she seems to clearly know the flaws of her friends and knows what forgiving Berger’s harshness takes from her. Anthony Snitker (previously in Civic’s “Into the Woods”) leaves more of a mark here than he has previously—I wish I could say we’d see more of him here, but after this show he’s off to Los Angeles. And, in the loveliest few minutes of the show, I believed wholeheartedly that Audrey Brinkley’s Crissy met a boy called Frank Mills in front of the Waverly.

(And, yes, there is nudity. For my thoughts on that, visit my earlier blog post here.)


Post a comment to this blog

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
  1. In reality, Lilly is maintaining profit by cutting costs such as Indiana/US citizen IT workers by a significant amount with their Tata Indian consulting connection, increasing Indian H1B's at Lillys Indiana locations significantly and offshoring to India high paying Indiana jobs to cut costs and increase profit at the expense of U.S. workers.

  2. I think perhaps there is legal precedence here in that the laws were intended for family farms, not pig processing plants on a huge scale. There has to be a way to squash this judges judgment and overrule her dumb judgement. Perhaps she should be required to live in one of those neighbors houses for a month next to the farm to see how she likes it. She is there to protect the people, not the corporations.

  3. Corporate farms are not farms, they are indeed factories on a huge scale. The amount of waste and unhealthy smells are environmentally unsafe. If they want to do this, they should be forced to buy a boundary around their farm at a premium price to the homeowners and landowners that have to eat, sleep, and live in a cesspool of pig smells. Imagine living in a house that smells like a restroom all the time. Does the state really believe they should take the side of these corporate farms and not protect Indiana citizens. Perhaps justifiable they should force all the management of the farms to live on the farm itself and not live probably far away from there. Would be interesting to investigate the housing locations of those working at and managing the corporate farms.

  4. downtown in the same area as O'malia's. 350 E New York. Not sure that another one could survive. I agree a Target is needed d'town. Downtown Philly even had a 3 story Kmart for its downtown residents.

  5. Indy-area residents... most of you have no idea how AMAZING Aurelio's is. South of Chicago was a cool pizza place... but it pales in comparison to the heavenly thin crust Aurelio's pizza. Their deep dish is pretty good too. My waistline is expanding just thinking about this!