They Got Life, Too!

The new Hair Tribe has taken over the Hirschfeld. I got to see them play their sixth performance and despite my attachment to the previous Tribe, I must say that this one’s got life, too. In my opinion, there’s still room for improvement but this new Tribe is definitely off to a great start.

One of the problems with my seeing this new Tribe is that I’m so familiar with the old one – I did experience their be-in 11 times, after all! As I watched this company, I had to keep reminding myself that it was okay – and actually a good thing – that they weren’t giving carbon-copy performances. These actors were making their own choices, and even though I loved the original Hippies so much, it didn’t mean that the new Hippies were wrong or bad – just different.

That said, I didn’t like all the choices this cast made. Diana DeGarmo, for example, seemed like she hasn’t fully fleshed out Shelia, lacking motivation behind her actions. I also find her voice to be too nasal for my taste, but that’s just my ear’s preference. I think that with time, she’ll become more comfortable in the role and that’ll show in her performance. Annaleigh Ashford, who takes over for the adorable Kacie Sheik in the role of Jeanie, was very different from Kacie, but she made Jeanie her own and was entertaining. Annaleigh’s Jeanie is cutesier than Kacie’s laid back Jeanie yet it still works.

A couple of overall comments about this Tribe: If the original Tribe was stoned, this one is coked out. This Tribe seems less chilled and more frenetic, but since they’re all on the same page, it works. Also, this Tribe really needs to bond. This is only their first week of performances and, if my calculations are correct, they’ve all been assembled and vibing for under a month. As they spend more time together and become more comfortable in the show, they’ll definitely cut loose a little more and play with each other more. For instance, Gavin Creel and Will Swenson had incredible chemistry on stage, and would poke, prod and play with one another during the show. Kyle Riabko and Ace Young, the new Claude and Berger duo, show sign of getting there, but they haven’t quite made it. I’d like to go back to see this Tribe in May or sometime over the summer, once they’ve had a chance to get comfortable in their skin.

Still great from the previous Tribe are Paris Remillard, Vanessa Ray, Rachel Bay Jones and Josh Lamon (who is now playing a new role; in addition to his Tribe track, he is also Dad and Margaret Mead, taking over from Andrew Kober.)

One standout of the new Tribe is Jeannette Bayardelle, who takes over the role of Dionne from Sasha (fierce) Allen. Jeannette has an incredible voice, like Sasha, but there’s something fuller and more soulful to her portrayal, and when she begins the show by welcoming the Age of Aquarius, you know you’re in for a good ride.

Congratulations to the new Tribe – you’re doing a wonderful job of filling some very big Birkenstocks!

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