A flower child walked through the audience and offered audience members a toke of a joint. Two people, who I'm not entirely sure knew the joint was fake, took a drag. It helped invoke the Age of Aquarius as the psychedelic setting for Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre's production of the popular musical Hair.
The story takes place in the late 1960s when men were getting drafted into military service for the Vietnam War. They protested the draft and grew their hair as a visible sign of rebellion to their parents' social norms.
Hair features a lot of difficult songs and digs into issues of race relations and sexual freedom. There is a large ensemble cast, referred to as a "tribe," and the production has pulsating choreography. Directed by Troy Poplous, Le Petit's Hair was triumphant, free of missteps and sometimes elicited claps and cheers mid-song.
The show boasted a very talented cast. Berger (Jake Loup) reminded me of Russell Brand in a good way as he hit all his comedic marks. Hud (Matthew Thompson) gave a commanding performance, and Woof (Kyle Aucoin) played a fun, airy character smitten with Mick Jagger. Claude (Kirk Gagnon), who is drafted but does not want to join his friends in burning their draft cards, gave a stirring and memorable performance. Idella Johnson, who played Sheila, brought down the house with her rendition of "Easy to Be Hard."
The choreography was tight, unpredictable and sexy, but the show's physicality was impressive in other ways as well. There were many high-energy dance numbers and they seemed to get stronger as the show progressed. Most of the cast members had brief breakout moments where they got to shine, spreading the love across the cast. During a song about marijuana, the cast lay massed together, intimately passing a joint, as if they were a single giant organism.
The stage was a spectacle acid-trip color splash, with Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon posters in pink, yellow and blue. A four-piece band propelled the show's rock-and-roll energy. There were a few minor sound issues and some microphone crackling, but most of the performance was smooth and groovy. The show's final song, which repeated "Let the sun shine in" after a character's death, was very powerful and received the standing ovation it deserved. Le Petit delivered what should be a good (peace) sign of things to come. — TYLER GILLESPIE