HAIR at Simi Valley

Several of us went last night to the opening of this HAIR. A young, energetic tribe and I really enjoyed it. Some different staging but true to the work. It is runs into early July. I suggest you see it.

Peace and Love,




This entry was posted on Sunday, June 3rd, 2007 at 5:52 PM and filed under Productions - New, Uncategorized. Follow comments here with the RSS 2.0 feed. Skip to the end and leave a response. Trackbacks are closed.

3 Responses to “HAIR at Simi Valley”

  1. Chihootawei Chief said:

    Thanks for the plug Michael. Hoping that you can return before the end of the run!

    Anyone who mentions that they are a tribe member from a production of HAIR gets a special discount on tickets.

  2. bleurose said:

    I want to compliment the Simi Valley tribe for their understanding of the community of HAiR. We will offer the same discount opportunity to anyone from this blog for our show. I urge all productions to do the same.

  3. JohnZ said:

    When Hebe and I went to see the Chi Hoota Wei Tribe’s production of HAiR at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center last Saturday (June 16, 2007), we were well aware that this would be a COMMUNITY theater production, and that Simi Valley is one of the more conservative towns in decidedly conservative Ventura County. It is home to the Reagan Presidential Library, and it is known for the large number of Los Angeles Police who fled the City and County of Los Angeles to make their home there.

    So, with the foregoing in mind, I had decided to try to relax my normally quite high standards (of which anyone who has read my previous posts should be well aware) and just see what they would do.

    Even Michael Butler’s strong recommendation did not prepare me for the HAiR they created! Starting with the Aquarius production, I have seen quite a few HAiRs, and I would have to rate the Chi Hoota Wei tribe’s as in the top four!

    The following are aspects that I particularly liked about the Simi Valley HAiR. Of course, these are IMHO, and I admit probable prejudice when the tribe performed a scene in a way that I had wanted to see it. Your results may vary, but I think that most people would find this to be a spectacularly good production.

    THE SET:

    The set was essentially a “black box” except for a platform, with a ladder and steps up to it, that was located at the upstage center. The rear wall was a large projection screen that they used at the end of intermission and for star projections during “Walking In Space.” The framework supporting the platform was decorated with various highway warning signs. In addition to this fixed platform, they used two movable set pieces: 1) a garbage can on a wheeled “truck” in which Jeanie performed “Air” (like in the recent California State University, Northridge production), and 2) a bench seat from a car, which was also on wheels. This “set” was elegantly simple, and served the production admirably. It was so unlike the set of the recent Fullerton College production, which, though quite pretty at first glance, did nothing to enhance the show.


    Simi had an excellent six-piece band (two keyboards, guitar, bass, and two percussionists) that really rocked. Everything in the show was so tight that the show just flew by. I was bothered at first when they up-tempoed even “Easy to be Hard,” but it worked.

    My only complaint with the band was that they were placed down center directly in front of the stage. The seating area has absolutely no rake (perfectly level floor), and the conductor was seated HIGHER than the audience. He blocked viewing of a significant chunk of the stage. Hebe and I were seated in row “B,” and the sight line from my seat placed the conductor’s head almost up to the floor of the platform. Anyone standing center stage was completely blocked from my view, and I am over six feet tall!


    The tribe was remarkable. Yes, they were they very good singers and dancers, but they were also EXCELLENT actors who clearly not only knew the show, but “groked” it. All lines were delivered so clearly and well that it was like they were really living the scenes. But, most important of all, this was really a TRIBE in the best sense of the term. As an audience member, I could feel the love that they felt for one another radiating from the stage. By underplaying their roles, they added greatly to the audience’s ability to LIKE the characters. I find this to be very important. Too many productions distance me with an overly-macho Berger, and a Claude that I sometimes wish might just disappear. (Sorry about those strong words, but I will go into these feelings of mine in a later post.) Suffice it to say that this tribe, coupled with a few very judicious cuts in the dialog and thoughtful staging, created characters that the audience had no trouble loving. BRAVO!

    I would love to hear how the director managed to build such a wonderfully loving and unified tribe. Was it phenomenal luck in casting, or were some magical tribe-building exercises used, or both?


    They put on almost all of HAiR, even “Hippie Life.” I believe that they only cut “Don’t Put It Down,” “Oh Great God Of Power,” and “The Bed.” One aspect that I really loved was that they picked up some great material from the paperback version of HAiR. Judging from a conversation that I overheard in the lobby, I was not the only audience member who knew the Lady Liberty reference when, instead of burning their draft cards in the garbage can, a female tribe member held aloft the inverted lid in which the cards were burned. I did wonder why the woman was not Sheila, however.


    The Chi Hoota Wei tribe had the most powerfully moving ending to HAiR that I have EVER seen! After Claude had been shot, he laid down on the platform and was covered by an American flag by two men in military uniforms. Berger went up to mourn over Claude’s body while the tribe sang “Eyes Look Your Last.” The tribe then pleadingly sang “Let the Sunshine In” as they walked up the aisles to finish the song from the lobby. The effect was spectacular! The theater had served as a church, a synagogue, and a funeral home prior to being converted into a civic theater, and the sound from the singing in the lobby was very ethereal and moving. Finally, the singing stopped, Berger took his leave, and the band switched off their lights and exited leaving Claude’s flag-covered body on the platform illuminated by a spot lamp, and the audience riveted in their seats! Clearly this was staged by a director who really understands drama!

    “WHERE DO I GO?” (And, in answer to Jon’s question in HAiR Strands 2 regarding how the nude scene was performed):

    When Claude discovered that he couldn’t burn his draft card, the rest of the tribe exited. Because 1) this HAiR was being performed in a municipal auditorium in a very conservative town, 2) the web site made no mention of nudity and only said that all children had to have tickets and carried-in infants would not be allowed, and 3) the program also made no mention of nudity and only stated that the material might not be suitable for younger teenagers, I really didn’t expect any nudity. But, from the tribe’s exiting, I guessed that I was wrong, and that they would, indeed, perform the scene naked.

    When they left, I had assumed that they did so in order to change into clothes that would be more suitable for quick removal. So, when they returned in what looked like the same clothes that they had on when they left, I was rather confused as to what the exit/re-enter was supposed to mean.

    Anyway, a parachute had been laid on the ground and Claude stood at its center with some of the tribe forming a circle around him. Other tribe members raised the outer edge of the parachute up to cover the ones inside in what resembled a flower (a tulip, I thought at the time). This is where the scene really started to “go south.” Apparently the parachute was supposed to cover the tribe members who were undressing while revealing Claude from about the chest up. From my (pre-assigned) seat in row “B,” the parachute often covered most of Claude’s FACE and even seemed to muffle the sound of the singing. Curiously, I believe that anyone siting in the balcony would have an unobstructed view over the top of the parachute of up-stage tribe members undressing! This means that for some of the audience. Claude was blocked from view, while for other audience members the parachute failed in its purpose to block the undressing from view.

    Unfortunately, the scene only went down from there. For where we were seated, Act I effectively ended at the moment that the parachute was started to be lowered. When the lights went out, from my seat I could only see the vague forms of TWO PEOPLE on stage: One woman, who appeared to be naked, on the right side of the stage, and one person (I think a woman) who seemed to be wearing long white pants but might have been topless to the left. Claude and all other tribe members were COMPLETELY INVISIBLE to me with not even a silhouette! (Well, I guess Claude always wanted to be invisible.) I did not notice any of the “blinder lights” that the director referred to in his posting. If I was “blinded” by anything, it was from spill from the band’s lights, and not the “blinders.” In fact, the scene at Simi Valley was less visible from where I sat than the scene was in the Glendale Community College production which had a row of more than 10 white PAR lamps firing over the heads of the tribe to (painfully) blinded the audience.

    I do not know whether they had another “lighting error” the day we attended, or whether the scene was lighted as intended. Either way, I strongly recommend that the director set up the scene with both the parachute held up as well as dropped (and WITH THE BAND LIGHTS ON) so that he can sit in different seats around the auditorium and see what the audience sees. Maybe it was just a problem in the area where my seat was located, but it is a very serious problem nonetheless.

    I want to reiterate that I found everything else about the show to be extremely good, and I hope to be returning this Saturday. Had it not been for these major problems during “Where Do I Go?” I believe that I would rank this as THE BEST PRODUCTION OF HAIR THAT I HAVE SEEN!!!

    Blessed be with peace, love, freedom, and happiness!

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