Brno Hair Is Not Boring
Lenka Havelková 9. May 2005 zdroj musicalnet.cz
Sixty repeats of the iconic musical Hair were performed on the Music Scene of the Brno City Theatre). The auditorium sold out every time proves that the ideals of “flower children” are still alive for the generation of teenagers. And not only for them.
A great role in the perception is played by the arrangement of the scene and its inconspicuous changes. The technique of changes depends on the theatre equipment – the Brno Music Scene enables to meet the craziest director’s visions thanks to its state-of-the-art stage technology, such as a moving stage table which moves in all directions and is used frequently, for example in the scene of Sheila’s party (Party Music) and Let the Sun Shine In. The sound is of high quality too – you can hear clearly in the whole auditorium. This is due to the sound distribution concept and signal processing – the signal is transferred from microports to a digital signal and is processed then. It is distributed to individual amplifiers and there it is transferred to an analogue signal again, which increases its quality. The second musical theatre using this technology is the Prague Broadway Theatre.
Berger acted by Dušan Vitázek, awarded by the Thalia 2004 Award just for this role, deserves attention. The role of Hud, bearing the indelible manuscript of Martin Havelka’s sense of humour, has a larger space too. Markéta Sedláčková acting Jeanie is represented in a different type of role – more rock and rough in voice. Claud is acted by Jiří Resler, Woof by Robert Jícha and Hud by Martin Havelka, Stano Slovák or Michal Kavalčík. Helena Dvořáková occupies an audience as Ronny, especially with her song Aquarius.
The total impression is enhanced with the size of stage and excellent stage design by Igor Barberič. The great asset of the theatre is its modern stage technology (stage tables, digital sound processing) fully subordinated to the directorial intent. The atmosphere of the 1960’s is completed with a light design and period costumes (Kamila Polívková). The Brno City Theatre disposes of a quality and large ensemble covering all voice levels.
Brno Producers Realized the Moral Message to the World
Tomáš Hejzlar 25. October 2004 zdroj Haló noviny
Hair Opened Successfully the New Music Scene
The famous musical Hair which also became popular due to Forman’s film was the first title presented on the new music scene of the Brno Municipal Theatre (MdB) since 3rd October.
In Brno, the Slovak director Dodo Gombár moved away diametrically from his conception realized in Bratislava: while his Slovak conception resembles rather the traditional English musical represented by My Fair Lady and others, his Brno conception comes out from a more colourful Broadway production with the omnipresent accelerating dynamics characteristic for films and the visual resourcefulness. Of course, various technical novelties of the newly built Brno theatre, such as the perfect illumination, acoustics and the modern stage with telescopic ramps supported the success.
The Brno version resembles the perfect American stage revues. It is fast, imaginative, changeable so that the audience has not time to get bored.
Let’s remember another asset of the Brno version of Hair – though the theme depicts critically an American life, there is evident a certain extent of European directorial and dramatic structure.
It is not a copy of Broadway
Thus, the Brno Municipal Theatre does not defraud its existing traditions. In fact, it fully respects the specifics of the national identification of audiences and the relation to valuable home traditions as the only music theatre in the Czech Republic. The continuity with the national feeling is evident in the Brno musical production even where it would not be expected. That is just the case of Hair: Gombár does not copy exactly the American rudeness on the stage, he tries to lead actors so as not to be depersonalized, with implausible, typically American “thymoline smiles”.
The chorus is perfectly movable (you cannot find such anywhere in Prague!), rhythmically exact and natural, mainly due to the evident enthusiasm of all its participants. This stage enthusiasm is typical for the MdB actors, but in Hair it is the most evident. Surely, it could seem sometimes that the Brno actors have nothing to surprise with – but a new shock has come up: finally, we have not a mere shallow “show”, but a perfectly processed professional complex of spoken word, singing (solo and chorus), movement and a music band. Perhaps, only Jesus Christ Superstar offered something similar in Prague in the 1990’s, following Evita and other, even worse realized, musicals (or rather rock operas) evidently lacked the enthusiasm.
One of the main parts, that of young man Claude, is alternated by Petr Gazdík, Jiří Ressler and Oldřich Smysl in Brno. The premiere was played by Gazdík who is made special by the director as a proportionally balanced share of his nature is kept and included in the current framework of action in the spirit of the presentation. Gazdík diverges from his former unforgettable stage characters, but he is such an original personality that his presence in the context of evening cannot be neglected. Claude’s friend Berger is alternated by Ján Jackuliak and Dušan Vitázek, Sheila is played successfully by expressionally pregnant Jitka Čvančarová or Soňa Norrisová. The figures are chased but do not cover the total development, are included in the organic whole of the directorial conception without exceeding its compact look.
But it would be unfair not to mention the contribution of all the others thanks to whom the presentation looks monolithic. The representatives of main as well as peripheral characters and the chorus offered a brilliant and unsuspected performance.
Stage sparkling with colours
The positive final impression of the audience also depends on the richness of colourful costumes designed by Kamila Polívková (while the Bratislava production is visually boring in this respect), and on the functionally changeable stage designed by Marek Holý (guest). An important role is also played by an intuitive musical accompaniment and the sensitive choreographic cooperation of Igor Barberić.
Quality after a long time
Recently, I often left Czech musicals embarrassed, slightly bored (if I did not leave during an interval). But this time, I was fascinated with the sense of order going hand in hand with invention and spontaneity, and with the pleasure to create visible values. After a long time I understood the substance of the musical creation again: I managed to forget everyday matters and be dragged into not only by action, but also by its presentation.
Memento for the present time
However, the musical Hair does not allow to forget completely an everyday life: it talks about common people, their problems and desires. It depicts life substances of many of us without having long hair, thinking of narcotics or belonging to a higher society which cannot understand troubles of those who live on the periphery. Hair is not a fictitious tale – it is a great memento for the present as the present events in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere are everyday reality and the “Vietnamese syndrome” can perfectly function now! Sixty actors and dancers remembered me of that in the new Brno musical theatre.
New Music Scene Opened by the Musical Hair
Tomáš Hejzlar 5. October 2004 zdroj Haló noviny
After many years of endeavour the Brno cultural life has been extended by a new Music Scene since Saturday built on a “green meadow” near the Brno Municipal Theatre in Lidická Street.
Although the new building is situated in the existing residential area – apparently so as not to spoil the characteristic architecture of the Brno centre with its modern appearance – its exterior creates a separate oasis of peace in the sensitively designed surrounding architecture.
“We are really very glad we managed to finish it within the deadline not only thanks to the understanding of the representatives of the Brno Town Hall which is our establisher, but we were also supported by the Ministry of Culture, in particular by the Minister Dostál himself who had been very well disposed to the idea of building a new theatre since the very beginning”, Stanislav Moša, the Brno Municipal Theatre Director, said and stressed an excellent cooperation with all contractors. “Surely, we would not be able to manage it in such a high quality within the deadline without the perfect coaction of all components, without those hundreds and thousands of nameless dedicated people who regarded their tasks as the matter of their personal honour and professional prestige. The Brno music theatre is unique in its message and so the technology had to be subordinated to our artistic requirements.” Moša also mentioned that the designers consulted their project with foreign architects, visited various modern theatres abroad so that the Brno theatre would correspond to the latest trends. “It is a pleasure that foreign architects admire our new theatre and find inspiration for their own new similar projects now,” Moša added.
The building for 450 million Czech crowns was the biggest investment in the Czech theatre made since the year 1989 and its priorities were evaluated positively during the Saturday’s festival evening not only by the representatives of the Brno culture but also by the present guests from Czech and foreign theatres. The Brno Municipal Theatre, i.e. the former Mrštík Brothers Theatre, is now focused on dramatic and musical production. They play 480 performances annually, many of them are presented abroad. The new theatre is the most up-to-date Czech theatre with 680 seats. The old theatre will continue its operation, mainly dramas and some chamber music plays.
Hair Is Alive and Topical
Marta Švagrová 5. October 2004 zdroj Lidové noviny
The successful presentation of the musical Hair opened a new theatre in Brno.
Weekend premieres on the Contemporary Music Scene of the Brno Municipal Theatre provided a surprisingly strong experience. The musical Hair written by Gerom Ragni, James Rad and Galt McDermot did not lose its topical and urgent character in this presentation.
The first October weekend of the year 2004 was inscribed in the dramatic annals by opening a beautiful new theatre. The theatre built with high costs is modern, effective and undoubtedly it cultivated a piece of the centre of the Moravian metropolis. The Brno Municipal Theatre chose the musical Hair for its opening.
The well-known rock musical which has been played without interruptions since its premiere on Broadway in the year 1968 (but it was put on for the first time on the off-Broadway stage of the Biltmore Theatre in 1967) has various versions. It is presented in a concert version; the world fame was acquired by the Oscar film adaptation directed by Miloš Forman in 1979. The film was used as a basis for the presentation directed by the Slovak director Dodo Gombár.
The simple but still burning theme expressing even after so many years the distaste of young people to violence, war, intolerance and their maybe naive looking for individual freedom is communicated by the authors through an eloquent music and impressive imagery. The first-rate study of music, imaginative choreography, impressive chorus singing and the credible leading of actors are extremely important for the result. The most important thing is to put oneself into the feelings of the generation haunted with the Vietnamese war. The former flower children do not differ so much from today’s young people – just the disillusion may have become deeper for the years of unsolved crises.
The director and author of adaptation Dodo Gombár brought sixty figures to the Brno stage (moreover, the main characters have two or three alternations), matched dancing and singing company, modern movement evoking the 1960’s. The perfect acoustics becomes apparent particularly in the excellent choral singing and the professional work of the orchestra of the Brno Municipal Theatre (music studied by Karel Cón, Igor Rusinko and Karel Albrecht - guest). The collective scenes are strongest, the number of deaf points is negligible.
The director was lucky in choosing the soloists, especially as for the typology of characters - vital Berger (Dušan Vitázek) has necessary charisma as well as dark Hud (Stano Slovák), Jiří Ressler as fragile Claud is touchingly vulnerable and Woof of Robert Jícha is naturally pleasant.
Though some interprets had problems with higher tones at the premiere, the female soloists had no such problems. Naive pregnant Jeanie (Markéta Sedláčková), sexy Sheila (Jitka Čvančarová), Victoria (Ivana Vaňková) and Ronny (Helena Dvořáková) with her interesting voices are distinct and masterful in their performances. They all sing very well, even during difficult dancing numbers.
Sheila’s party (resembling Forman’s conception) belongs to the impressive scenes, the mid-blowing wedding, which is too descriptive and little imaginative, belongs to the weakest points. Who knows Hair will miss cutting Berger’s hair which is substituted with insufficiently symbolic plaiting his thatch into a pigtail...
But the Brno Hair has its atmosphere, poetry (among other things, thanks to the translation by Jiří Josek), brilliant music and likeable professional performances. The musical enlivens the Czech musical significantly.
Hair Added the Past to the Present
Luboš Mareček 4. October 2004 zdroj MF Dnes
The first musical production demonstrates imaginatively what all the new theatre can do. It was not easy for the director Dodo Gombár signed below the musical Hair. There were more expectations than usually.
Mere nosey parkers will be satisfied with his presentation as well as lovers of famous musicals. All technical inventions of the most modern Czech theatre will be presented to the former group of theatre-goers and an appropriate artistic show, which sound is a real experience, will be offered to the latter group.
Gombár knows that the era of flower children passed a long time ago. Miloš Forman himself, whose famous film from 1979 inspired the Brno musical theatre, came up with his slightly ironic view after ten years’ lapse of time. Another 25 years later it is not necessary to be sentimental or bitchy. The war has always been a stupid matter, this is the point.
Gombár offers an attractive retro show where the costume designer Kamila Polívková had enough playing with second hand dresses. The passed view of the New York Central Park of the late 1960’s was pinned up to the present time. And so a balloon with a portrait of George Bush flies over the stage. In other place, the present war guru is substituted with a projection of the real date with the countdown back to 1969. The Brno Hair straddled between the past and the present, which strengthened their timeless antimilitaristic message.
However, the musical is to be a luxurious performance. Gombár was not sparing here either. Platforms representing a technical miracle of the music theatre are going out and in. A video projection is used, also on the walls of the theatre hall. The direction is making jokes with a woman cleaner looking a sketch, caricatured recruitment committee or a woman screw looking like a man. A real blue chevrolet on the stage is a cherry on a richly glazed cake.
It should be said that this never-ending mummery neither disturbs spectators nor oppresses singing or dancing numbers. And the performers are the most crushing answer to the question why the new music theatre was built. The professional enthusiasm with which all young ladies sing well-known songs is almost contagious. Gombár and his company included a spectacular show masterfully in the Brno Hair which patchiness is fortunately unobtrusive.
The New Brno´s Theatre Building was opened by Hair
Vladimír Čech 1. December -1 zdroj Kam supplement
To build and to open a new theatre building within the predetermined period at present – this is a really extraordinary phenomenon and literally a kind of a small miracle. And this was achieved by the Brno City Theatre or his Director, Stanislav Moša. The new Thalia stand, called prosaically the Musical Scene, welcomed its first visitors on 2 October last year. The gala entrée was properly glamorous and the choice of the opening title was not left to chance. Some had perhaps expected an opening key in the form of another home musical news written by Moša and Merta or Ulrych; in the end, a time-tested performance from the range of the world’s musical theatre milestones was chosen, the rock musical HAIR, composed by Galt McDermot and a pair of librettists and lyricists, Germ Ragni and James Rad. This choice was supported by the fact that Miloš Forman was counted with as a director to stage Hair, based on his famous film of the same name, and to adapt especially the end of the original subject.
Miloš Forman did not come to Brno this time to stage Hair; however, this does not mean that the performance, adapted and directed by Dodo Gombár (setting by Marek Holý, costumes by Kamila Polívková, choreography by Igor Barberič – all of these four working “as guests”) lost something of its glamour and uniqueness. Hair was staged almost the whole October at the Musical Scene of the Brno City Theatre, sometimes even twice a day; there was no other performance. There was a rest break in November but the performance is back in December, though not with such a high frequency. And the theatre continues to count with it. Needless to say that the whole October was completely sold out. Well, it would be a shame to build a new theatre, stage Hair and not to be sold out. Nevertheless, the truth is that people come not only to see an attractive performance but to see and evaluate the new building as well.
This Hair production fascinates most by something which is well known in the ensemble: enthusiasm, vitality, working at full stretch, passion of youth and balance between the dramatic, dancing and signing expressions which is necessary for this kind of theatre. The range of admiring expressions may be extended, according to one’s own fantasy, by other synonyms of a professional expression; and you will end by asking yourselves where these artists of so far little known names came from, where they gained such a preparation when certainly not all of them passed JAMU (Janáček´s Academy of Musical Arts) or the academy of music. The ability of the theatre’s management to come across them, discover and motivate them to work so hard deserves recognition and admiration as well.
Gombár´s Hair remains located at the time of the Vietnam War; there is no Iraq or Bush – long hair would have to be shortened as the current trend rather commands. As the Musical Scene was spoken about as a theatre building with ultramodern technical equipment in the context of the whole Europe, the spectators naturally expected to see something of these modern conveniences at the opening Hair performance. Let us hope they were not disappointed. All manner of variable stage levels and its partial little stages are perhaps inexhaustible and there is no lack of acoustic miracles – the spectator perhaps realizes this mostly at the end of the performance when the airplanes hum so much above his head that he almost feels them descending on his head…
Probably all Hair productions are based on actor teams that put well together. The new Brno Hair production is no exception in this respect. Noone in the collective seems to force themselves to their roles anyhow; these modern hippies would not get lost at the end of the 60s among the real American rebels. And it is hardly possible to determine the strict dividing line between the director’s and the choreographer’s contributions which is almost a rule in the musical theatre genre.
The roles are mostly alternated, sometimes even by three actors. I saw a performance on Tuesday, 12 October, when the performance was conducted by Igor Rusinko. And his orchestra played very well. Although the team was very well balanced, I think the greatest recognition should be given to Ján Jackuliak in the role of the wild and uncontrollable Berger. Jiří Ressler playing Claude as a guest was maturing as a hippie a little in his shadow. Jitka Čvančarová was the attractive Sheila of that night. And was there sometimes an off-key tone sung by some? Well, if you are to be constantly stoned, you can hardly sing like Pavarotti...
As the tradition goes, the dramaturgy of the Brno City Theatre published an extensive booklet for the new Hair production.
Hair Flared Between Memory and Present
Vít Závodský 1. December -1 zdroj Týdeník Rozhlas
Since the beginning of the 1990’s, musical (and then operetta) has remained a strong repertoire line of the Brno City Theatre highly appreciated by audiences and bringing a deserved fame on frequent West European tours. Naturally, the offer of the “speaking, dancing and singing theatre” will grow up along with the creation of an independent operetta ensemble and the recent opening of the representative Music Scene right in the premises of the Brno City Theatre.
A longer time ago the musical Hair written by three American authors - librettists Gerome Ragni and James Rad and the composer Galt MacDermot – spread in the whole world since its premiere on Broadway (1968) to start a rock revival of the musical sphere, was selected to open the Musical Scene as the defiance of young people to killing in wars and restricting of personal freedom, the theme of sex and sincere love, the non-xenophobic racial tolerance and the generation protest against social conventions and the consumer world are still alive.
Although the three-hour performance rejects consciously a glitzy megalomania of a show, it takes into account the aspect of a “retro” show in which the organic uniformity of live band, the plastic dramatic expression and the maximum effort of non-playbacked soloists with microports in the middle of the drilled company result in a collective artefact of versatile professional parameters, balanced in styles. Thus, the supermodern theatre of extraordinary kinetic, acoustic and projection possibilities has undergone its first loading test.
Undoubtedly, the performance with descriptive scenes of sharp caricatures (Sheila’s party, recruitment committee) or metaphoric scenes (drug visions, allegoric selection of killed soldiers), with a lot of well-known numbers contagious with their melodies and movement, deserve the favour of audiences.