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'Hair' makes the summer of 2013 more memorable

Posted by: Graydon Royce under Theater, Behind the scenes, Openings + closings Updated: July 2, 2013 - 11:26 AM

 

Cat Brindisi and David Darrow, seen here in "Spring Awakening," are the prime movers behind 7th House Theater Collective. Photo/Michal Daniel.

 

Will the 7th House Theater Collective ever do another production? This group of really talented young actors, singers and dancers just staged a "Hair" that perfectly captured the musical's spirit and heart. To sound hopelessly old, "It was a happening," which is exactly what Gerry Ragni intended when he created "Hair" with Galt MacDermot back in 1968.

I caught the show Monday, closing night, and the 514 Studios was packed to standing room. Lead singers Cat Brindisi, David Darrow, Brianna Graham, Matt Riehle and Caroline Innerbichler sounded great -- the sound bounced around the space with a lot of juice. The intimacy, the interaction, the joy and honesty (most of the time) drew out the small human tragedy that makes the story timeless, even while it is relentlessly of its time.

Because it was industry night, there were a number of actors and directors in the house -- several Chanhassen vets, and Latte Da's Peter Rothstein and Denise Prosek, for example. I was curious to know the reaction of a couple of youngsters who are currently working over at the Guthrie (not enough to ask, though). These good, young actors are making real salaries on the biggest stage in town -- the gold standard! -- but were they at all tempted by the thrill that must come when you scratch out your own artistic freedom and then win over full (140ish people) houses? Even if you're only making gas money and maybe this month's rent? Just a stray thought.

But it brings me back to the future of the 7th House Collective. Was "Hair" the result of serendipity -- of a talented "tribe" that found the right piece for the right time and the right place? Did they pull off a small, one-time miracle? They raised money through Kickstarter, worked social media like demons, filled the house, benefitted from generous donors, overcame unexpected costs and made the summer of 2013 a little more memorable, theatrically. 

Brindisi said at the end of the night that the group was so heartened by the response that they hope to strike again sometime and Darrow was holding a tub at the exit, collecting donations. It's easy to do that in the heady afterglow, but as anyone who has tried to maintain a theater company knows, it's the institutional stuff that can kill you -- exactly the stuff against which the kids in "Hair" were rebelling.

Anyway. Here's hoping they can pull something off. It doesn't have to last forever. Gotta love these kids.

 

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