Sunday, August 17, 2008

Woof's Super Fruity Party Punch

For those of you who thought that the Public Theatre's production of Hair was too clean, that it lacked grit, soul, energy, love, sweat, tears and anger; run, or take a train to Asbury Park, New Jersey and see this definitive production of the Love Rock Musical Hair. Staged by the Revision Theatre .

I was in a cast many years ago and have seen this show in several incarnations and have never been left with such a powerful punch as this version provides. If for any reason the director and choreographer of the Public version do not go to Broadway the producers need look no further than Andy Goldberg (director) and Elisabetta Spuria (choreographer) to find the talent needed to have audiences on their feet, not because they have been invited to join a Mama Mia type dance party, but because they have been touched deeply.

From the moment the lights come up and Aquarius begins as the souls of our pasts are given a summons from a Royal medium the chills begin. All around us the ghosts appear and as they grow stronger in voice they become real and it isn't a nostalgic look back, we are there. It's 1968 and we are at war, young men are needlessly dying in a war we know is wrong.

The voices are powerful and strong as the past comes to life as real and vital as anything we have experienced.

Many versions of hair make Berger the 'star'. Here we see him on his own methadrine trip, one of those selfish types who talk a good game and will someday be a Republican excusing his life with a yearly cheque to some charity.

As we become fully a part of the tribe, the tribe moves above us, around us, in front of us immersing us in their world.

When Claude sings 'Where do I go?" and the cast turns to him in the final chorus we are a part of them beseeching him to join them in being free, not to give his life for some idiotic thought of patriotism. We as the audience know no matter what the sacrifice, nothing changes.

As the show draws to a close we want them to stay, celebrate their youth just a little longer, be a part of something important, sing and dance for as long as you can. Don't become us.

It can't happen.

We know who they are, and we know who they will become. A population that has allowed the president and the congress to run roughshod over our constitution. We, who are complacent sheep going along with anything to be perpetuate the illusion that we are 'safe'. We who as the lights go on and souls of who we used to be depart sit stunned with tears in our eyes for what we have allowed ourselves and our country to be.

Theatre this evocative should run much longer than 3 weeks. The City of Asbury needs to give this amazing company an extension on the Carousal building and when it finally closes spend their resources turning the space into a Theatre, not some wasteful shopping court. If equity is an issue, guys bend your rules, you do it all the time to screw actors. Bend them again to give them a chance to be seen.

I'll make the trip to New Jersey again for this, but not to buy a pair of sunglasses.

Go to the website, read the names, remember these performers. Keep your eyes on them as they continue to work and hopefully fulfill the promises so many of us have failed.

So how do we go from here to a punch recipe? Hey, I'm a food writer, it may not always be a smooth transition but what is?

The one thing I remember about the 60's was punch, fruit juice (always eventually spiked) was served in big Christal or glass bowls. As hard as this cast works an Angel Hair pasta recipe just wouldn't cut it. They need something to rehydrate as they skinny dip til the sun comes up.

2 cups sugar
1 huge ginger root cut up
2 cups water

Warm the water on the stove and simmer the ginger root in the water for 30 minutes then stir in the sugar to make a syrup.

1 cup lemon juice
1 cup lime juice
1 cup unsweetened Cranberry juice
1 cup Cherry juice (tart if you can get it)
1 cup Pineapple juice
7 cups water

Once the syrup is made, stir in all the fruit juices and chill. Serve like a lemonade over ice and if the party calls for it spike it with some booze. Vodka, rum, or tequila blend best with fruit juices, but hippies can't be choosers so use what you've got.
Best served at final cast parties to celebrate a job well done. For this cast I would man the Barbecue at no fee, and I'm expensive.

Ephie Aardema, Julia Arazi, Casey gensler, Kyle Taylor Parker, Marah Meese, Mike Russo, Scoop Slone, Keith Antone, Steven Charles, Joay Caldwell, Spiro Gallatsatos, Martin Gould Cummings, Deidra Grace, Iliana Inocencio, Britt Johnson, Hannah Shankman, Anita Welch

The Band
Brian Green, All Coffey, John Gronert, John Manga, Jim Mcilvain, Steve Pleasnarki, John Luckenbil
Band Conductor: Andrew Hertz
Set Design: Russell Michael Scramm
Lighting: George Hansel
Costumes: Steven Epstein
Sound: Simon Ghezzi
Assistant Director: Heather Foard
Associate Set Design: Dawn Von suskill
Production Stage Manager: Julie Meyer
Assistant Stage Manager: Ann Marie Chiatia
Music Direction: Andres Hertz
Choreography: Elisabetta Spuria
Director: Andy Goldberg


Bill Phillips said...

I have read you many times before and one of the things I love about your column is your sharp commentary. When you don't like something you don't hold back.

I was very surprised to read such a moving, political, emotional commentary about Hair.

I was in this show many years ago myself and it can be very powerful when done correctly.

I hope the cast gets a chance to read your words. They should know the power of theatre, and use it wisely.

Karl Wilder, Chef said...

Thanks Bill.

I wrote it stream of consciousness and just got back in and corrected my typos.

I go to the theatre a lot and it is rare that I am this moved. I should note that all of the cast has real talent. To make living theatre requires something more than playing a role.

The band rocked the house.

Last night I went to speak with Jim Rado one of the creators of this musical and standing in Central Park I relived it as I told him about it.

He had been incredibly impressed with a rehearsal he saw.

Rock on guys.