Stephen Barszowski, Jr. in a scene from HAIR.

60’s Reborn in Playcrafters’ HAIR

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“Give me a head with HAIR…Long, beautiful HAIR…”

I am a child of the 60’s…born a little too late to actually participate, I still experienced the birth of the hippie movement, the social awakening, the drugs, free love, and the horror of the older generation toward the “misspent” youth of that era. As such, I am a bit of a hard-sell on musicals of that era being done today…it’s so difficult to capture those times. Fortunately, there are instances when I am dead wrong, and the 60’s are reborn. I am very happy to say one of those times is happening now at Playcrafters of Skippack.

Matthew Mitlas, Roseann Enwright in a scene from HAIR at Playcrafters of Skippack.

Matthew Mitlas, Roseann Enwright in a scene from HAIR at Playcrafters of Skippack.

HAIR, the quintessential musical of that era, is a testament to the 60s…a hippie “tribe” in New York City, politically active, free-spirited, allows us a look into the counter-culture of the times. We get to meet a number of the tribe; Berger (Vince Rostkowski), free-spirited, recently expelled from high school; Claude (Stephen Barszowski Jr), the self-professed “most beautiful beast in the forest”; Sheila (Roseann Enwright), a student at NYU, socially active and living with both Berger and Claude; and many, many others. We get a glimpse into their lives, and into the lifestyle they all embrace.

Director Kevin Binder has done a terrific job putting together this cast and this production. A relatively new and young cast has embraced the concepts of the hippie movement without pulling in any of the modern twists…no high 5’s, no modern gestures or slang. Their occasional ad-libbed comments were all perfectly done. And the movements, the choreography (also coordinated by Binder) were spot-on. Musically, the voices all were hard-rock in tone and style…no Disney voices here, thankfully. Kudos to Vocal Director Brian Shapella for bringing a long-misrepresented vocal style to life.

Individual performances were a pleasure to watch…Rostkowski was the free spirit of Berger, with just a hint of an edge. Barszowski showed the conflict of the character between his convictions and his upbringing. Enwright brought depth to Sheila, and a particularly heart-rending rendition of “Easy to be Hard.” Scott McMaster (Woof) was charming, his character wonderfully ambiguous. Tyreese Kadle (Hud) is the perfect militant black of the era. And on, and on…everyone in this marvelous cast was spot-on.

From the first entrance into the theatre (many audience members are greeted by members of the tribe, some receiving wild flowers) to the final song (where an impromptu “Be-In” takes place, the audience encouraged to come on stage and participate), your evening is a step back into an era that has almost been forgotten. Thank you, Playcrafters for bringing back a lot of very fond memories.

Don’t delay…tickets for this production are at a premium. I believe that the theatre just added an additional performance, so don’t miss a chance to see something very special.

HAIR
Musical, Book and Lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, Music by Galt MacDermiot
Directed by Kevin Binder
Music Direction by David Deratzian, Vocal Direction by Brian Shapella
July 17-August 2, 2014
Playcrafters of Skippack
2011 Store Rd
Skippack PA 19474

(610) 584-4005
www.playcrafters.org

 

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Walter Bender

Walter Bender

Walter Bender is a veteran of over 35 years performing all over the country. He attended Texas Lutheran University as a Theatre Arts and Vocal Performance major. While in college he toured much of the Southern and Western states with various acting and singing groups. He appeared briefly on radio in San Antonio and on TV in Miami while in college. Moving back to PA, he has performed in well over 100 amateur and professional theatrical productions, and directed dozens more throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Among his favorite roles are Lt. Colonel Jessup (A Few Good Men), Daddy Warbucks (Annie), and most recently he was George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Arguably his favorite theatrical memory was creating the role of Alan Frick in A Fast Train to Heaven for Bill Gottshall Productions. He is co-founder of Spring-Ford Community Theater, has served as Managing Director of 2 different theaters, Artistic Director of a third and President of another. He worked for the Delaware Valley Arts Institute, where he worked with many wonderful artists and instructors, culminating in being selected to facilitate a post-graduate course at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Currently he serves on the board of directors for dcp theatre as their Director of Corporate Communications.

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