Guerrilla Theatre Front is living up to every word of their claim to be “Wild. Risky. Ambitious” with their most recent production of Hair. From the minute you park your car and see the line of hippies guiding you down a dirt road, to a large clearing in the woods behind a residential home; you know you’re in for something you don’t see everyday.
Joining forces with local entrepreneurs to have vendors set up, including tarot card readings, GTF made it clear that the purpose we were gathered for was to cultivate a connected community. Complimenting the themes of Hair, all the stops were pulled to make us feel as though we were at a Be-In rather than a musical.
Hair is remarkable for not only its contribution to the theatre but also for its contribution to history. As a show, you could say it’s like a flower that has been pressed in the spine of a book, it has preserved a moment in time where the youth of our nation was rising against the injustices of the war-loving administration. Most notable in its original production was that they pulled a number of performers straight off the streets from protests and put them in the show, creating an authentic representation of the tumultuous 60s and 70s. GTF managed to maintain Hair’s historic importance and power while also adjusting the show to bring it into this moment and time and speak to us, calling us to action against the injustices we currently face under this administration. Managing this duality of preservation and rejuvenation is not a small task and they accomplished it with flying colors.
The whole company of actors performed with zeal and power but particular standouts of the performers were J. Purnell Hargrove who embodied the essence of the songs and captured the dichotomy between the rebellious and celebratory natures of the story harmoniously. Chelsea Paradiso also had a shining moment with her solo of “I believe in Love”. A beltress for the ages, she soared through the number and throughout the show was consistently a voice easily picked out of the group as being particularly lovely.
This production of Hair was stripped of all pretention that usually comes along with theater. There was nothing precious or delicate about this production. It was proud and bombastic, rebellious and unforgiving. It was clear we were not there for “art” but rather for community and for the message. They managed to take a piece as old as Hair and make it an almost spiritual experience that both connected me to the other audience members and charged us all to action against the current injustices we are facing. They nailed their objective on all accounts and put on a damn good show.
SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO: This production only ran for one weekend, but definitely do be on the lookout for what Guerrilla Theatre Front is up to next. They are an ambitious group with a bright future ahead of them. (B)