It was the year 1968 when I attended Queens College. In the midst of “the age of Aquarius”, the Vietnam War, hippies and experimental drugs was the tone. That was also the year that the theatrical production of, Hair, became one of the best musicals ever to hit Broadway. Unlike most of the Broadway musicals, two of the songs dotted the music charts when, a year later, a group called The Fifth Dimension recorded a medley of “The Age of Aquarius” and “Let The Sunshine In”. In fact, if you were to check out the 100 billboard top hits of 1969, the song was rated number one! It was also the same year that the group Three Dog Night recorded “Easy To Be Hard”, The Cowsills recorded “Hair” and Oliver scored a hit with “Good Morning Starshine”. The lyrics, music and beat kept this musical’s songs on the charts and everyone was singing them.
If you didn’t actually see the show, it was likely that you bought the record…or perhaps the 8-track tape as this rock musical seemed to have had more singing than dialogue. We had a Broadway show that depicted the birth of the cultural movements of the 60s and 70s that followed a “tribe” of free-spirited young people who strived for a lifestyle of pacifism, free-love, and sexual identity, while fighting racism, and the draft. They burned their draft cards, smoked pot and tripped on LSD.
A little more than 40 years later, Hair is back on Broadway, at the Hirschfeld Theatre, with the same numbers, mode of dress and expectation of having another hit. Somewhere in the back of my mind I recall seeing a stage production, but not necessarily on Broadway. No, I didn’t see the movie, either in the theatre or when it was brought to television. This production is probably best when performed in front of a live audience (versus corpses?).
I’m going to give the credit to the director, Diane Paulus, for bringing the show out to the audience. The actors not only talk to the audience but venture into the aisles and climb up to the mezzanine as well. They don’t expect you to sing along with them, but they may ask you to dance with them or accept a flyer that says, “A Be-In! A love-in for peace! Flower Power! Burn your draft cards! Bring Blankets! Bring your own pot!”
Hey, you can react to them! It’s fun. Those of you who are privy to getting front row seats...expect a bit of participation! Unlike most of the Broadway shows, the audience will be drawn to the show itself and not to anyone starring in it. In fact, unless you are a constant theatre goer, you may not recognize any of the cast by name, face or stint on any of the Law and Order groups. Does it make a difference? Not in this production. The acting, singing, dancing and energy of each performer make the present Broadway production a total “happening” experience for each member of the audience.
I will answer that burning question about the nudity. Yes, at the end of act one, while singing, “Where Do I Go”, they strip one by one, until totally naked. No quick flash. They are standing there…facing you…for much more than just a few seconds.
There isn’t any plot to share nor is there any surprise ending. What I will tell you is that the final ending involves placing something in the front of both sides of the stage to allow and encourage the audience to join the cast and dance along “Let The Sunshine In” continues to chime.
Will there be a cast recording? I just got word that they do the studio thing on April 6th , so expect the new CD to be out during this spring season.
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