Theater Caps are bite-sized punch-packing capsule reviews by resident theater critic Elaine Liner. Use them as a reminder -- or a teaser, if you procrastinate -- of her full-length reviews in The Mixmaster's weekly sister.
We expect nudity in Hair. That's what made the "tribal love-rock musical" shocking in 1968 and though now we're used to seeing boobs and buns onstage, even at the Winspear Opera House, finding a whole cast of buff young singers and dancers in the altogether is pretty eye-popping. It's just that for Hair we didn't expect to see the famous nude scene moved to the first act, where the Broadway tour directed by Diane Paulus puts it.
There they are, singing and dancing like happy hippies and, swoosh, suddenly they're all showing their bits and bobs. OK. Got it. So where does the show go from there after intermission?
The second act of this Hair is a collage of dizzying music and motion, including a long drug-dream sequence starring draftee Claude, played by Paris Remillard, and then a sad requiem leading to a free-form dance party as the musical concludes with the upbeat "Let the Sunshine In." Like some of the Flower Child costumes worn by the cast, this version of the feels like a patchwork of messages and emotions.
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It also feels like a Vegas act at times. The first half is especially broad in tone, with lead hippie Berger (Steel Burkhardt) stripping down to a fringed g-string, jumping into the audience and grinding on people like a Chippendales dancer. Silly antics like that are all over this Hair, which makes the U-turn into serious stuff in the second half a little jarring.
Hair is about youth in revolt at a time when kids were being sent to a war they didn't believe in. It's about love and loss, art and anarchy. But this Hair's themes are camouflaged in an over-emphasis on comedy.
Hair continues through October 2 at the Winspear Opera House. Call 214-880-0202.