Friday, August 22, 2008

Newsflash: Hippies Spotted In Asbury Park "Hair" on the Boardwalk

By Philip Dorian
Two River Times
August 22nd 2008

On opening night of Hair at the Carousel on the Asbury Park boardwalk, heavy rain (precipitation) fell during the song about snow (not precipitation). Dripping through the roof in several spots, including onto the stage, the rain did not dampen the spirits of the show's anti-Vietnam War protesters or of their adoring capacity audience. The particular scene is a hippie be-in, and the downpour brought us all, audience and cast, together for a precious two hours.
That's what Hair was supposed to do, before we traded tie-dye for navy blue and activism for going-along-to-get-along. Two years ago I wrote that Hair, 40 years after emerging as the American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, had become passe and that its relevance might be mainly historical. Dated Hair is, but despite some valid criticisms, ReVision's quality re-vision makes for a valid time-study. Director Andy Goldberg imbued his energetic cast with respect for the era as well as the material.
Don't go to Hair looking for a plot or even a linear story. It's New York City, 1968. Claude (Casey Gensler), drafted to serve in Vietnam, vows to burn his draft card and refuse induction. In the end he does go, with predictable consequences.
Claude's tribe includes his sex-and-drugs-obsessed friend Berger (Scoop Slone); his girlfriend Sheila (Ephie Aardema); Jeanie (Julia Arazi), who's pregnant by Claude; Hud (Kyle Taylor Parker), a tough "colored" guy; sweet, vulnerable Crissy (Marah Meese); and diverse hippies.
Claude is ambivalent about serving, while Berger is in the 'hell no, I won't go' camp. Gensler and Slone, contrasting types, match up well. Their friendship rings true.
Musically, The Tribe rediscovers "Aquarius," Good Morning Starshine" and "Let the Sunshine In" with enthusiasm and "Frank Mills" gets the proper wistful treatment from Meese. Ms. Aardema, an accomplished singer, is a potent presence throughout, and Arazi makes of pregnant Jeanie the waif you want to protect. Britt Johnson's cameo as a curious tourist is a comic highlight.
Hair ushered in the era of amplification, and there is a tendency for companies to treat their theater spaces like 15,000-seat concert venues. ReVision is no exception. The band, offstage at the rear, provides excellent backing, but a sizeable portion of the lyrics is lost in vocal volume and over-amplification, a significant flaw, considering the absence of a coherent book. While a choreographer is listed, the dancing is free-form and more Stone Pony-ish than stageworthy.
On the big-plus side: Most of act two is Claude's war-themed hallucination. Vietnam is represented of course, as are the American Revolution, the Civil War, both World Wars and '60s Civil Rights issues. The extended scene can be as fuzzy as Claude's drug-addled brain, but here it's clear as a bell and ethereal all at once. Director Goldberg uses the Carousel's many aisles and levels, and costumer Steven Epstein's creations blend accuracy with a sense of humor. The second act works better here than anywhere else I've seen it.
The fortitude that turned the recently-decrepit carousel building into a viable theater venue is praiseworthy in itself. What a pleasure to see Asbury Park's Boardwalk, virtually deserted for decades, bustling again with shops, strolling couples, laughing teenagers and, would you believe, even theatergoers.
"Hair" runs through August 31 at The Carousel, south end of the Boardwalk in Asbury Park. Performances are Thurs-Fri at 8pm; Sat at 7 and 10:30; and Sun at 7pm. For tickets ($35): 732-455-3059 or online at
About Hair's fleeting nude scene: Here it's semi. A few of the 17 hippies are starkers and a few topless, but the once-shocking display is redundant now anyway - silly even. Of far more importance, the audience is not invited on stage to dance with the cast after the curtain call. C'mon, ReVision; get with the program.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"Hair' grabs gold ring

Scoop Slone, Casey Gensler and Ephie Aardema are co-stars in ReVision Theatre Company's production of "Hair," being staged at the carousel house in Asbury Park.
(Dennis Carroll)

August 19, 2008

by TOM CHESEK, Asbury Park Press

What a piece of work is "Hair: the American Tribal Love-Rock Musical" that caught Broadway with its pants down more than 40 years ago.

Welded to its Summer of Love origins, devoid of all but the barest-bones plot points, populated by the sketchiest of characters, the 1967 show created by James Rado and Gerome Ragni might have been little more than a vanity project for its writer-stars if it weren't for one crucial distinction — those songs.

Working with composer Galt MacDermot, the authors crafted a set of generational anthems, emotional ballads and satiric sing-alongs that stand very well on their own, even as they shoulder the entire weight of moving the show along. All this, without owing a thing to the conventions of Tin Pan Alley's Golden Age.

Along the way to revolutionizing the whole musical template as practiced in postwar America, "Hair" managed to shed a number of Broadway bugaboos — against sex and drug references, interracial romancing and liberal dropping of the f-bomb, to name but a few. Most of all, it's famous for the shedding of clothing, which the cast does during the "Be-In" sequence that forms the climax to the first act.

ReVision Theatre Company, the new professional troupe based in Asbury Park, has selected this unorthodox show as its first extended-engagement production — and they've opted to do it in an unorthodox venue, the Carousel building that adjoins the old Casino at the south end of the boardwalk.

Unless you're a recovering 1990s skate punk, you probably haven't been inside that historic roundhouse for many years; not since the hand-painted ponies of the old wooden ride stampeded out of state. Boardwalk developer Madison Marquette has done a tremendous job getting the unique structure up to speed as a live performance venue, a purpose it was never designed for.

Director Andy Goldberg (whose 1970s-retro tribute to the Aussie pop group Boney M was a smash on European stages) and the ReVision team have also worked hard in orienting this show to its unusual space, keeping the cast of 17 actors mostly above the audience on a central riser, side platforms and scaffolds.

As Claude, the conflicted "Tribe" member whose drafting into the Vietnam-era army forms the crux of the drama here, Casey Gensler shares the spotlight with Scoop Slone, who displays some solid rock-star cred as the Puckish, self-centered Tribesman Berger. If anything, however, "Hair" is an unusually democratic show in which pretty much everyone gets their turn to shine — with stand-out moments delivered by Kyle Taylor Parker ("Colored Spade"), Julia Arazi ("Air"), Mike Russo ("Don't Put It Down") and Ephie Aardema ("Easy To Be Hard").

Special kudos should go out to lighting designer George Hansel, who's met the considerable challenges of rigging and illuminating this oddball space with an effort that pays off in full during the extended "trip" and hallucination sequences of the second act.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Celebrating diversity with 'Hair'

Asbury Park troupe stages alternate production to one in Central Park

Monday, August 18, 2008

To paraphrase a famous Cole Porter lyric, is it Granada he sees, or only Asbury Park?

Both, in fact. Thomas Morrissey feels that ReVision Theatre, the new troupe he's co-founded, is in the right place and time to benefit from Asbury Park's continued renaissance.

"And because we're in such a diverse community," he says, "we decided to put on the most diverse show we could: 'Hair.'"

The famous 1968 rock musical had already been announced for a summer engagement in New York City's Central Park before Morrissey and his partners, David E. Leidholdt and Stephen Bishop Seely, chose it.

In Asbury Park, the musical is being staged in the Carousel on the Boardwalk by Andy Goldberg, who had an off-Broadway hit with "The Bomb-ity of Errors." Scoop Slone, the lead singer of the rock band Maslow, stars.

The 54-year-old Morrissey and his co-artistic directors are expecting a great many Baby Boomers.

"We'd like it if people from Deal and Spring Lake would drop by, too," he says. "They embraced 'Hair' when they were young, for this was the generation that broke the rules and helped change the perception of the Vietnam War.

"But," he says, "these kids believed they had the answers, and we now know they weren't always right. Sex and drugs don't cure things. So 'Hair' offers the good and bad of the era."

It was quite a different musical that got Morrissey interested in theater.

"'My Fair Lady,'" he says. "My parents and I came to New York from Davenport, Iowa, when I was about 5. Pretty soon into it, I whispered to my parents, 'I want to do that when I grow up."

"That," however, didn't necessarily mean performing, though Morrissey did plenty of that in community theaters and children's stages in Iowa.

"When I did summer stock," he says, "I became more aware of what it takes to put on a show. So I watched the people who did lights and sound. I went to the box office and learned the system of ticket-selling. I checked out how the press agents wrote their press releases. It wasn't just about performing for me."

In the '80s, Morrissey worked as a house manager for two Greenwich Village theaters and became a member of the illustrious Circle Repertory Company.

"It got too entrenched in doing one specific kind of play," Morrissey says, "and then it seemed to be repeating itself. And that's why they closed down."

Morrissey responded in 1995, a year before Circle folded, by starting a company called the Genesius Guild, named for the patron saint of actors. It centered on developing new work. ReVision, though, will do new and old works, hoping to mount three next year in a space that will become a 300-seat theater.

A redevelopment company named Madison Marquette has greatly helped. "They rehabilitated the Paramount Theatre in town, and they gave it to us for a recent benefit. That went so well, they gave us some money to do 'Hair,' too."

So sure is Morrissey that ReVision will succeed that he's bought a home in Asbury Park, though he's keeping his Manhattan digs as well.

Only one question left, and Morrissey knows it's coming before it's asked. "Yes, of course, we'll do the famous nude scene."

Peter Filichia may be reached at or (973) 392-5995.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Woof's Super Fruity Party Punch

posted by Karl Wilder
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Fusion on the Fly Blog

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

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

“Hair” in Asbury’s Carousel House

NJ My Way
August 11, 2008 04:47 AM ET Permanent Link

It’s two revivals in one.“Hair,” the rock musical that revolutionized Broadway 40 years ago, is opening Friday as the first event held inside Asbury Park’s newly refurbished Carousel House, the boardwalk landmark that for decades sat empty and falling apart like much of this Shore town.
The show is being produced by ReVision Theater, which was founded in Asbury Park in November by members of the Genesius Theatre Group in New York. Stephen Bishop, one of the founders of ReVision, says he left New York for the Jersey Shore because the renaissance going on in Asbury provides good opportunities for the arts.
He also thinks it’s good for his production that another “Hair” revival recently opened at the Public Theater in New York. “Several people from that “Hair” helped us,” he says. “And lots of people don’t want to drive to New York, so they can come here to see us.”The play explores the hippie counterculture of the 1960s; it scandalized the nation with scenes that included profanity, drug use and sexuality in ways never before seen on the American musical stage. Still, songs such as “Aquarius,” the title song “Hair,” “Easy To Be Hard” “Good Morning Starshine,” and “Let The Sunshine In” became hits.
Bishop hopes staging the play at the Carousel House will be a hit too. “We were looking for alternative spaces, storefronts, garages, parks,” he says. “We had worked with [Asbury’s oceanfront developer] Madison Marquette and they were working on the Carousel House. We drove over and said: This will work, it’s a fantastic venue.”
The Carousel House was built in the late 1920s as part of the Casino entertainment complex on the south end of Asbury Park’s Boardwalk. During Asbury’s glory days as a resort, the building housed amusement rides including a large carousel. As the rides were dismantled through the 1980s the building fell into disrepair.
Madison Marquette has restored the copper roof and green cupola with elaborate trim, and reinstalled ornate glasswork windows. The show will be staged as theater-in-the-round. “It’s perfect for ‘Hair,” a show about hippies who come in and take over a space,” says Bishop. The show runs until August 31. Check here for times and tickets.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Former Carousel House Now a Home for ‘Hair’ - New York Times

Published: August 9, 2008

ASBURY PARK - THE Carousel House has been empty for years, but from Aug. 15 to 31, it will be filled with the sounds and sights of the Age of Aquarius. The recently restored building is the setting for “Hair,” the first fully staged production by the nonprofit ReVision Theater here.

ReVision’s founders, Tom Morrissey, David E. Leidholdt and Stephen Bishop Seely, came to know one another through the Genesius Theater Guild, based in Manhattan and started in 1995 by Mr. Morrissey, 52. ReVision became the new incarnation of Genesius this year. The three men, who share a house as well as the title of producing artistic director, moved to Asbury Park this spring.
They wanted to start a regional theater that could incubate work for Broadway, like the Barrington Stage Company in Massachusetts, where Mr. Leidholdt, 43, had worked as an associate producer. “We opened atlases, picking out cities,” said Mr. Seely, 35.

They sought a town that was developing, diverse and gay-friendly. Mr. Morrissey added: “All the other towns we looked at didn’t need us. We want to make an impact.”

The performance of “Hair” will be in the round; seats will be on risers and on floor cushions, with the cast performing on a platform and on three scaffolding towers. The director is Andy Goldberg, of “Bomb-itty of Errors,” the hip-hop Shakespearean play.

Built as part of the Casino entertainment complex on the Boardwalk, the Carousel House, which dates to 1929, had a carousel in place from about 1932 to 1990, according to Helen Chantal Pike, a historian and author of “Asbury Park’s Glory Days” (Rutgers University Press, 2005). Later occupants included a skateboard park and flea market.

According to Courtney Johnson, marketing director for the real estate company Madison Marquette, one of the owners of the Carousel House, it has been given a new roof and cupola, replacement glass and iron gates. Other performances and art exhibits will take place there in the future, she said.

ReVision’s plans include smaller shows during the year, a holiday show and summer musicals in a variety of places, with both new works and reimagined classics expected.

ReVision has a group, ReScript, that reads submitted plays and is run by Lou Liberatore, another Asbury Park resident. Mr. Liberatore also runs the Jersey Shore Writer’s Studio and was nominated for a Tony Award in 1988 for his featured role in Lanford Wilson’s “Burn This.”
ReVision’s three producers have other jobs: Mr. Leidholdt teaches at a summer theater camp in Manasquan and will be a producer for American Family Theater in Philadelphia in the fall. Mr. Morrissey teaches musical theater at Wagner College in Staten Island and at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. Mr. Seely tends bar in Asbury Park.

At a pool party fund-raiser for ReVision, George Hansel, the lighting designer for “Hair,” said he was happy to see the group in the city. A resident for 25 years — “I’m a townie,” he said — he runs a local performing arts company called the Black Box Theater. Noting that a lot of “carpetbagger” types have come through Asbury Park, he said, “ReVision fills a niche of quality.”
Besides, he added: “They pay everybody, which is rare.”

“Hair” runs from Aug. 15 to 31 at the Carousel House on the Boardwalk in Asbury Park, 700 Ocean Avenue at Asbury Avenue. Information: (732) 455-3059 or

LET THE SUN SHINE IN Cast members of “Hair,” from left: Martin Gould Cummings, Julia Arazi, Mike Russo, Marah Meese and Spiro Galiatsatos. (David Hunsinger for The New York Times)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Hair Cast

Mike Russo, Brit Johnson, Martin Gould Cummings, Hannah Shankman, Scoop Slone, Ephie Aardema, Kyle Taylor Parker, Anita Welch, Joy Caldwell, Keith Antone, Spiro Galiatsatos, Iliana Inocencio, Deidre Grace, Marah Meese, Casey Gensler, and Steven Charles (not pictured Julia Arazi)


Having a Be-In: James “JT” Thom of Madison Marquette and David Leidholdt of ReVision Theatre survey the work-in-progress that is Asbury Park’s Carousel building, where a revival of the “tribal love-rock musical” HAIR promises to jumpstart a new era for the venerable boardwalk landmark. (Photos by Diana Moore)

Asbury Park - Once there was a carousel upon this very space, with painted horses carved of wood in a wondrous steeplechase. When we were young, we’d ride each day and reach for rings of brass…

Nah, strike that opening — too maudlin. Besides, we’ve all heard enough of those sentimental recollections of Asbury Park’s storied Carousel building. The reason we’re here right now, peering through padlocked gates at the gutted expanse adjoining the grand ruin of the Casino, is all about the future. A future that says this long-quiet place will rock within just a matter of days, as the ornate roundhouse at the south end of the boards plays host to a major revival of the musical Hair.

It’s the latest bit of buzz on the boardwalk in what’s turned out to be a milestone summer for developer Madison Marquette, which doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo regarding that recession thing. It also represents a triumph for the city-based ReVision Theatre Company, the fledgling enterprise that’s marking its first extended engagement with this production. The two entities joined forces for this novel staging of the “American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” (book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni; music by Galt MacDermot) after working together on the troupe’s benefit production of Hello, Dolly! at the Paramount, a show that starred Carol Channing tribute artist Richard Skipper.

When Red Bank oRBit heard that the guys at ReVision were tackling the famous counter-culture touchstone of the 1960s sexual revolution — in the semi-round, in the buff, and in a long-neglected building that had last done duty as an indoor skate park and punk rock hall — we just had to investigate.

We got ourselves an exclusive look at this work in progress, when we met up with James “JT” Thom of Madison Marquette — the man with the official golf cart and those all-important keys — and ReVision Producing Artistic Director David Leidholdt, for a discussion of what it’s taken to get this faded treasure of the Shore into shape for something that, frankly, it was never really designed to do.

Let the Sun Shine In: The interior of Asbury Park’s Carousel has been gutted, cleaned up and fitted with new equipment in preparation for the musical HAIR, opening August 15.

It was Asbury’s own George Hansel, a veteran arts advocate and lighting designer who will be supervising that aspect of the production, who tipped us off to the story possibilities here. As George told it, there were peculiar challenges in staging a show within an oddly shaped structure with no lighting grid, no sound system, no seats, no backstage, no climate control, and a location across the street from the busy bass-beats of the Paradise nightclub.

“Plus, the place has been an aviary for the past ten years,” said Hansel in reference to the cooing pigeons that have made it their luxury seaside condo. “There must have been eight inches of birdshit on the floor.”

The concrete-floored roundhouse of ornate glasswork and patina’d copper accents was subject to a massive cleanup, in anticipation of hosting a Big Art Party in early June. While the permits didn’t come through in time for that event, the necessary paperwork has been put in order for Hair. A new metal roof radiates from the domed skylight; the eerie wailing siren faces continue to register their displeasure, and someone has even taken the trouble of replacing the light bulbs that adorn the cherry-on-top dome.

“This came together quicker than any sane person would have attempted,” says Leidholdt, a veteran freelance director and co-founder of ReVision with fellow AP’ers Thomas Morrissey and Stephen Bishop Seely.

“It’s organized chaos,” explains JT, looking skyward as a feathered resident casually goes about his business. “And we still haven’t solved our bird issues.”

Playing the Ponies: The actual Casino Carousel is long gone, but Madison Marquette and ReVision Theatre are wagering that one of the Shore’s most distinctive buildings will perform like a winner.

Bird issues notwithstanding, JT and his crews have been able to plan for temporary seating of up to 150 patrons. Trusses will be installed for tech equipment, and a generator will be brought in to augment the old building’s plug-in power sources. The cooling ocean breezes are expected to provide a natural a/c, and a series of black curtains will be hung over the windows — addressing the question of how to charge admission for a show that could conceivably be viewed by passersby through the glass that wraps around most of its perimeter.

Anybody who steals a glance should be getting an eyeful, too. Famous for its taboo-busting take on profanity, free love, dope, patriotism and, especially, its full-on nude frolicking, Hair really set tongues to clucking during its smash 1968 Broadway run and even longer-running London engagement. This is to say nothing of its (gasp) racially integrated cast, its groundbreaking interaction with audience members, and its vanguard status as the grandaddy of all rock musicals. In between all the controversy, its mega-hit soundtrack album yielded such sweet anthems as “Age of Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine” and “Good Morning, Starshine,” a staple on Sesame Street in its early days.

Suffice to say that the pikachu’s, paneenee’s and papayas will be on display — as could conceivably also be the skin-tags, witchy hairs and corn-chip toes — when this love-in gets going. Fortunately, director Andy Goldberg (The Bomb-itty of Errors, Nerds, and West End’s Boney M tribute showDaddy Cool) and the ReVision team have cast what Liedholdt calls a “young, dynamite, age-appropriate” collection of players — highlighted by Scoop Slone, frontman of the NYC band Maslow, as the passionate “Tribe” member Berger.

Berger King: Rock singer Scoop Slone takes the spotlight as the Tribal free-spirit in HAIR. (Photo by Lex Kolychev)

Other major cast members include Casey Gensler (Claude), Ephie Aardema (Sheila), Julia Arazi (Jeanie), Mike Russo (Woof), Marah Meese (Crissy), and Kyle Taylor Parker (Hud). The Tribe is completed by Keith Antone, Joy Caldwell, Steven Charles, Martin Gould Cummings, Spiro Galiatsatos (who starred in tick…tick…BOOM at Brookdale College last winter), Deidra Grace, Iliana Inocencio, Britt Johnson, Hannah Shankman and Anita Welch. Choreography is by Elisabetta Spuria and Andy Hertz directs the live band.

Housing, moving and otherwise wrangling 17 actors (as well as an assistant director and a handful of technicians) for the three-week duration of the show is just one of the challenges facing Liedholdt and company. Primary dressing room facilities have been established at the nearby Wesley Grove condominium complex, and a tent set up in the Carousel parking lot will serve as a “backstage” area. All in a day’s work for a “homeless” organization that maintains temporary headquarters at Asbury Park’s VFW building on Lake Avenue, where they’ve conducted workshops, classes and auditions.

Leidholdt, who as one of the show’s producers faces a challenge “to get people off the beach and into the theatre,” offers that this unorthodox midsummer night’s dream of a musical is just the sort of thing to experience “in a bathing suit or a tank top.”

“It’s a risky thing, doing a show here,” he admits, adding that “for our purposes it’s a more manageable size than the Paramount, and this could be the first of a number of ReVision events in the space.”

In the meantime? “Maybe we’ll do a bit of island-hopping around town until we find a permanent home!”

Hair opens August 15 and continues through August 31, with performances on Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 7pm and 10:30 pm, and Sundays at 7pm. Tickets ($35) can be had right here.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hair is Here!

ReVision Theatre takes off - and takes it all off - in Asbury

By Steven Froias

TriCity News
August 7, 2008

ASBURY PARK - We can't think of a better way to add an exclamation point to a comeback summer on the Asbury boardwalk than an event musical staged in the newly restored Carousel building.We can only picture it in our mind's eye, however. But ReVision Theatre of Asbury Park can see it through from concept to execution. And that's exactly what's happening right now as they gear up to present their next production, a staging of HAIR in the Carousel opening Friday, August 15 and running through Sunday, August 31. It's certain to add a dash of bold creativity to the scene with it's uncompromising artistic commitment to the original intent of the show - which contains strong language and full nudity - and what's certain to be ReVision's own unique take on this timeless, but timely, piece of theatre. We're not surprised that ReVision isn't afraid to cross new cultural terrain in the triCities. We interviewed the directors back in May and were impressed with their street cred.The guiding lights of the company are Stephen Bishop Seely, David E. Leidholdt, and Thomas Morrissey. The trio first came together in New York at ReVision's precursor, Genesius Guild years ago. After many successful seasons in the Big Apple, they found themselves swimming in critical acclaim but suffocated by New York's tight space and notoriously high operating costs. So they began to search for a new home in which to base their evolving group, which they began to envision as a regional theatre company which would provide opportunities for actors, directors and the like, as well as develop new material for Broadway or Off-Broadway bound productions.They chose Asbury Park and the triCity region - simply fell in love with the possibilities this area afforded them. As we wrote back in May, it's a win-win situation; for Asbury, and the triCity region, it's an opportunity to claim ownership of an organization that could bring national cultural attention to the area.Before planning the coming week's production of HAIR in the Carousel, they set up shop in our funky, little city by establishing an office in the VFW building on Lake Avenue, held acting classes and readings, and laid the groundwork for realizing their potential by staging a few special performances."DayDreaming: Channeling Doris Day" held June 1st at Mattison Park was one. The enthusiasm generated that day helped propel them to their next event - in the most expansive sense of the word. That was a one-night only musical concert of Richard Skipper as Carol Channing in "Hello, Dolly" at the Paramount Theatre on June 14th. It was, both in our view and in the opinions we heard by many in the audience that evening, the night magic returned to that venerable stage. Now, ReVision Theatre is poised to work their spell on another historic Asbury venue. As with everything they've done and everything we hope they'll do, it's an informed and inspired choice - just like the selection of HAIR itself as their next production.Stephen Bishop Seely tells us that he and the other directors of ReVision literally hopped in a car with representatives from Madison Marquette and went on a tour of available performance spaces on and around the boardwalk. But it was a short trip; the marriage of tribal rock musical and the siren call of the somewhat gritty, raw space of the Carousel was a pitch perfect match. Stephen calls the opportunity to stage HAIR there "environmental staging."He says they settled on HAIR as their next project, after initially planning to select and stage an original work, because he and the other directors felt the excitement generated by Asbury Park, particularly the boardwalk, demanded an 'event' show.HAIR is certainly that event - for the times, generally, and for Asbury Park now specifically.Born 41 years ago in another - at the time - somewhat scrappy space, Joe Papp's Public Theater in lower Manhattan, HAIR burst onto the theatrical scene a year later on Broadway pulsing with freshness and vitality. Though the summer of love is 40 years gone, many of the same issues - war, racism, sexism and sexuality - are churning beneath the surface of our society today. "HAIR is more relevant today than in any other time during the past 30 years," Stephen says.ReVision solicited resumes for the directing chores from all over the country and settled on Andy Goldberg, an up and coming theatrical talent who has already made a mark in Berlin, Germany with Boney M., a tribute show to the Australian answer to ABBA, Daddy Cool. Andy tells triCity that he concurs with Seely. "HAIR isn't a museum piece," he says. "The present day will creep into this production, more by implication than by beating people over the head." He leapt at the chance to help re-invent the musical, which coincidently is also being revived in New York this week. It's a testament to the tenacity of the ReVision team that they were able to secure the rights for this production, a mere 60 miles away. It's that determination to push the envelope that Asbury should embrace. Just as it should the more controversial elements of HAIR, including its full frontal nudity. With the success of Asbury's boardwalk this summer comes danger - the danger of creeping conformity. We've always hoped this city would never fall into that abyss. And ReVision Theatre - as all good artistic endeavors should - is helping to prevent that from happening. It's a challenge Asbury should accept gratefully."The cast is excited to take their clothes off!" Stephen told us. Which probably isn't surprising since Andy told us that while they've been rehearsing up in New York City, they're steeping themselves in the time period of the 60s. That's when the raw energy of the young was channeled into a cultural war of their own choosing and making in an effort to effect.change.How much - and how little - has changed from 1968 to 2008 in the country, and in Asbury Park.Hats -and everything else - off to the exuberance of youth. And ReVision Theatre. HAIR will run August 15 through August 31; Thursdays & Fridays at 8:00 pm; Saturdays at 7:00 pm & 10:30 pm; and Sundays at 7:00 pm. At the Carousel on the Boardwalk, 700 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park. All Tickets $35, General Admission. Buy tickets online at