HAIR - An Explosion Of Joy, Beauty, Life, Freedom, And Hippies
HAIR first played on Broadway in the 60s and it was, without question, one of my very favorite musicals. I saw it three times. I recall that the then New York Times critic Clive Barnes was quoted as saying "If you Have One Musical To See, Make it HAIR." His quote was pretty close to that, anyway. I don't think I agreed with Mr. Barnes then, but HAIR is surely a joyous musical, full of memorable songs, and a "tribe" of performers you simply want to be part of.
HAIR was raunchy, and sexy and some of those elements have been trimmed for this Tony winning revival from a couple of years ago. Any show that begins with the wonderfully voiced Phyre Hawkins leading the cast in "Aquarius" lets us know we are in for something quite special indeed.
The age of hippies being long ago, HAIR has become something of a museum piece. Not a museum piece that is stodgy and dusty. But, a museum piece to be cherished, and viewed often, perhaps through different points of view.
The direction of this production of HAIR by Diane Paulus and the choreography by Karole Armitage keep this "new" HAIR alive, moving, and bursting with life. HAIR is dangerously close to being creaky and frayed at The Edges. Fear not. The "creatives" and the exuberant cast make this HAIR one to love and one you will want to revisit as often as you can.
The audience at the Broward Center tonight, reacted to this HAIR with mixed emotion. There was never the pandemonium of applause that we sometimes see in great musicals. The audience laughed in the right spots and applauded when expected. However, the applause and general reaction did seem to indicate that HAIR is indeed perhaps a period piece. HAIR was better in the 1960s, then again, perhaps that was because we were all decades younger or not even born yet.
As in the original, the cast climbs over seats, interacts with audience members, uses the aisles as playing grounds; you never know where the performers in HAIR will emerge from. The famous, or is it infamous, act one finale of the cast being nude is here, in all its naked glory. This sequence seemed better than the original production. It was lit more generously and the cast moved around somewhat. The youthful tribe all looked great and it created no cardiac arrests on the senior citizen members of this Florida audience.
Galt MacDermot's music still enchants us and often, makes us feel decades younger. A swift internet search will let you know all the wonderful songs in this show, so I shall not bore you by listing them here. It is the book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado that are of chief concern with any production of HAIR. The opening song tells us we are in the age of Aquarius. I am not sure if we still are. Was the age of Aquarius something that took place in the 1960s and is gone forever? I don't know. I also don't know if young theatergoers will know what a hippie is or was and I'm not sure if they will get swept up in the joy of this show.
Steel Burkhardt as Berger and Paris Remillard as Claude are vocally gifted, easy on the eyes, and lead this tribe and this show as though they were longtime veterans of the musical theater. They are great.
HAIR is a love fest of delightful music and dance, and the energy emanating from the "tribe" is surely infectious. Anyone with interest in the musical theater or simply looking for a wondrous couple of hours, must see HAIR. HAIR's final performance at the Broward Center is June 19.
I encourage you to see HAIR and you too will want to "Let The Sun Shine In."
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