SOUTH ORANGE, NJ -- “Hair! The Musical” packed the South Orange Performing Arts Center for both shows on Saturday, and the audience cheered and laughed throughout the performance.
The national tour of the Broadway musical featured plenty of singing, dancing and interaction with the audience – along with occasional nudity and adult language.
This version of "Hair!" features new songs, but the actors also sang the tunes that made the rock musical famous such as "Aquarius" and "The Flesh Failures (Let the Sun Shine In)." The story focuses on the adventures of Claude (Erik Kopacsi) and Berger (Joshua Wiles) as they deal with the issues of living in America during the Vietnam War in 1967.
The engagement of the audience was a pleasant surprise. The actors began the show by speaking to the audience directly, making sexually suggestive jokes.
The actors both sang and played instruments such as guitar, drums and even a trumpet. The music carried messages of love and peace that recreated the atmosphere of the 1960s.
One weak spot was the first 20 minutes, where the balance between voice and instruments was off – with the instrumentals drowning out the voices. After the audio was fixed, the audience could hear the lyrics and follow the story on stage.
“It’s not where I’d imagine a national tour stopping at, but it was the perfect venue," Christine Kadets, Iselin resident, said. "My favorite was the featured ensemble member Dionne (Shahi Teruko).”
This weekend, Jane Monheit takes the stage at 8 p.m. on Saturday. She is an award-winning jazz and cabaret singer. Her latest album is “The Heart of the Matter.” See our story here.