Theater Review "Hair" Kauffman Center For the Performing Arts – Kansas City, Missouri

Kauffman Center For the Performing Arts, Kansas City, Missouri
February 5, 2013

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Welcome to the 1960’s, the decade of free love, flower power, psychedelics, the Vietnam War, and long flowing hair! Even though it was written in 1967 and debuted on Broadway in 1968 the story and underlying symbolism of the musical “Hair” holds true even in this decade and for my own generation.

“Hair” is an ensemble/audience interaction event and an experience all in its own. Credited with being the first “Rock Opera,” “Hair” is the story of a group of young adults who are living the life of freedom, drugs, love and no responsibilities or, as they were better known at that time, hippies. Their only job is to live their life and protest the ideas of the conformist government and their conservative parents. Their retaliations range from protesting and draft card burning to something as simple as growing their hair long… the longer the better.

The main characters of the story are two young men: Claude (Noah Plomgren) and Berger (Brian Crawford Scott). They both find themselves attracted to young socialite Sheila (Mary Kate Morrissey). The struggles in conflict arises when Claude is drafted by the U.S. Army to serve his country in Vietnam. He struggles with the life he has led vs the life and path ahead of him.

The cast in this production of “Hair” was downright amazing, with every cast member in stunning form vocally. Unlike some touring productions, this cast is much more than just decent actors with good voices, Plomgren and Scott also show a fantastic gift for comedic timing as well as captivating emotion. Sheila and Woof (Jason Moody) were the two performers who really stood out to me. While many of the songs in the show are so familiar as to encourage the audience to sing along, when those two sang the audience sat silently and took their voices in.

What I enjoyed more than anything else at this performance was watching the audience. You could see the majority of the crowd were the same age as the cast during the”age of Aquarius” Being 28 I really got a kick watching the sixty-somethings with their gray hair and tied ties, now seemingly professional and clean cut, as they filled the auditorium. You could see them having literal flashbacks as the show progressed. A good laugh here at free love, a snicker there at a reference to “getting stoned” and even a whispered conversation between husband and wife during the song “Hashish” (the only lyrics being the various drugs popular in the 1960s) ending with an audible laugh. By the end of the show the audience was captivated by the story, the music and the cast. The show ends with a grand performance of “Let the Sun Shine In” with the cast inviting the audience to join in the fun and dance with them on stage.

The audience consisted of people of all ages, proving that after all these years “Hair” has stayed relevant from generation to generation…passed on from parents to their children (although as a child I never believed my parents were as cool as they said they were). This show offers an opportunity for any parent or grandparent whose kids always doubted their cool stories to introduce them to the life and times that now can only being read about in history books.

This show definitely earned 5 out 5 stars in my opinion, especially taking in the whole experience of the cast, the music, the performances, the venue and the people I shared this show with. It is an experience that I won’t forget and I’m sure in 40 more years the story of “Hair” and its ideals will still hold strong. “Hair” continues in Kansas City through Sunday, February 10. Below is a list of cities the show will visit soon.

For more information or to purchase tickets go to

February 19 – Opelika, Alabama
February 20 – Montgomery, Alabama
February 24 – Columbia, Missouri
February 26-27 – Kalamazoo, Michigan
February 28 – Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
March 1 – Toledo, Ohio
March 2-3 – Detroit, Michigan

Aretha Franklin fills Kauffman Center with Soul

Photo by: Patrick Howell courtesy of Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

Aretha Franklin
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
Kansas City, Missouri
May 8, 2012

A few years ago, “Rolling Stone” magazine published a list of the 100 greatest voices in rock and roll history.  No surprise that number one went to the Queen of Soul herself, Ms. Aretha Franklin.  At the beautiful Kauffman Center in Kansas City, her majesty held court for a sold out audience.  And she didn’t disappoint.

Cloaked in a fur coat and carrying her pocketbook, as if she was just stopping by to say hello, Ms. Franklin opened her show with a rousing version of Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher.”  For the next hour and a half she regaled the audience with many of her hits (“Think,” “Chain of Fools”) as well as some surprises.

The show went off without a hitch.  Almost.  After her second number Ms. Franklin requested that the stage airconditioning be turned off, threatening to leave the stage if it wasn’t.  “I came to give Kansas City my best performance,” she informed the unknown tech, again requesting the a/c be cut.  Thankfully for all in attendance it was.  Later in the show one of her bracelets fell off.  She eventually enlisted the help of her band director, who refastened it to much applause.

Ms. Franklin was in fine voice, hitting all of the notes the audience expected.  She kicked off the second act of her show by sitting down at the piano and paying tribute to one of her mentors, the late, great Sam Cooke.  While images of Cooke were shown on the video screen, Ms. Franklin sang one of Cooke’s biggest hits, “You Send Me.”  “Jesus” she said, as shots of the handsome Cooke filled the screen, “he was a fine man!”  She followed up with a moving tribute

Photo by: Tim Hursley

to the late Whitney Houston, singing a few bars of “I Will Always Love You.”  She concluded the second act with an audience favorite, “Freeway of Love.”

For her encore she informed the audience that the other night she had seen one of her five favorite films on television (among her favorites: “Dr. Zhivago,” “The Thomas Crown Affair” and “Lady Sings the Blues.”  I can only assume one of them is “The Blues Brothers.”)  She then delivered a moving version of “The Way We Were.”  She concluded the evening with her signature number, “Respect.”

On a side note, I must add here that this was my first visit to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and it was easily one of the most beautiful venues I’ve attended an event at, The complex, along with the Sprint Center, is one of the crown jewels in Kansas City’s performing arts crown.

SET LIST:  (Your Love Is Lifting Me) Higher and Higher, Share Your Love with Me, Think, Baby I Love You, Something He Can Feel, Chain of Fools, Ain’t No Way, Instrumental Highlights (the band was TIGHT), Find Me An Angel, Help Me Lift Him Up, You Send Me, I Will Always Love You, Freeway of Love.  ENCORE:  The Way We Were, Respect.