The purpose of Hair, now showing at the Egyptian Theatre in Park City, is not so much to tell the story of the drop-out hippie culture of New York’s East Village in the late 1960s as it is to submerge the audience in their world. Director Jerry Rapier of Salt Lake’s Plan-B Theatre Company creates a swirl of music and (at the end of the first act, naked) bodies that feels like one fluid, drug-induced haze, with details of plot and character only occasionally breaking through the fog.
I mean that in a good way. The values of and dynamics between the members of The Tribe—as the characters are collectively known—are woven lightly between and through the rock numbers that come at the audience in quick succession. One barely has time to worry about a traditional story arc as the world of The Tribe is less depicted than it is illustrated in an impressionistic style.
The band rocks the upstage center throughout, and the actors’ performances are consistently compelling. In keeping with the communal and egalitarian spirit of the culture it describes, Hair is at its best when minor characters step out of the background for a moment into the spotlight. Lauren Noll (Crissy) and Nathan Shaw (“Margaret Mead”) deliver two of the show’s best numbers (“Frank Mills” and “My Conviction,” respectively) before blending back into the crowd.
Whether you remember the ’60s or not, hippie or square, Hair is a potent cocktail worth indulging in. I’ve been having flashbacks for days.