Of the many shows I have seen in the last few months, “Hair” sticks out in my mind for many reasons. Why? Well, first off, here is what it is about for the uninitiated.
“HAIR tells the story of a group of friends choosing to speak up and sing out in celebration of love, life and freedom. The first great rock musical, it has some of the most rousing and soulful songs ever written for the stage, including "Let the Sun Shine In," "Easy to be Hard," "Good Morning Starshine," "Aquarius" and the infectious title song, "Hair."” – HaironTour.com
And if you need a visual…(be warned; the following video may be too psychedelic for those that do not feel the love in the air)
I saw it a few weeks back with Groupon was dolling out an awesome deal; $35 for two balcony seats or $69-$89 for a front-ish row mezzanine seat (valid on performances Wednesday thru Saturday). On one particular Friday, two front-row center Mezzanine seats were available…um, don’t have to tell me twice; gal pal Amy and I scooped up those seats and fast.
I was really excited to see this show; I missed the revival that closed last year and I, as well as the rest of the New York theater-going community, got lucky that the touring cast had a ten-week stay at the St. James Theater in New York before hitting the road again.
Fun sidenote: the previous show at the St. James Theater was American Idiot…I believe that theater should become home to every musical reveling in the disaffected youth of America. Maybe that is just me...
What I like about the show is that it has a great energy that is both era-appropriate and infectious. Amy and I sat with huge grins on our face the entire time as we were soaking up the laid-back, nostalgic and narcotic-infused vibes the characters were radiating. In addition, the show features a lot of audience interaction that is ever-so charming, from the characters openly addressing the audience, to the cast rushing and dancing in the aisles to the “be-in” curtain call (the audience takes to the stage for a dance party). C’mon, who would not love those little touches?
Best friend Kay made an accurate comparison between Hair and Cabaret, one of our all-time favorite musicals. Much like how the Kit Kat club is a fun and sexy place set to the backdrop of the Nazi uprising, the Hair tribe exist in the Hippie, laissez-faire times with the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the draft. I love plots and storylines with those multi-dimensional qualities, where not everything unfolds as it is “supposed” to and where there is an effective contrast in tone as the show progresses. Even better, Hair does a great job of wavering the boundaries of its characters and plot facets without being too uncomfortable or prompting me to think “where the hell did that come from?” Major kudos in that regard, especially because the show examined many controversial issues for the time,
including especially race.
The show features some standout musical numbers; however, as a whole, the music is only okay for me. There are a lot of numbers to begin with (I counted 41 in total, including the curtain call numbers), but with that opera-esque quantity, comes some numbers that are forgettable, pointless or excessive within the context. Oh sure; the cast recording conveys the story fairly well listening to it all the way through, but only so many numbers strike me as likeable.
Show of hands: who wants to be an Aquarius, if you are not already? If I could change my sign, I would after listening to this number; I like it a lot as an opener.
Claude is my favorite character, so I am partial to his songs as my personal favorites. “I Got Life” is my favorite number of the show because it is so darn, head-boppingly fun. I must instate it into my next karaoke session.
How FABULOUS is that!
What a cute, non-Claude song!
Some of my other favorite numbers are at the end of the second act and spoiler-ish; therefore, they I will not include them here. They are great though from character and story standpoints though; believe me...
I would have loved to have seen Gavin Creel (one of my favorite Broadway performers) and Will Swenson as Claude and Berger respectively (from the above Tonys performance of “Hair”). Instead, Amy and I sat witness to an amazing Steel Burkhardt as Berger and a formidable Paris Remillard as Claude. As great as they were, it was the entire cast that had great rapport and that is very important, as this is clearly an ensemble-driven show.
And man, that is one attractive cast. They went full-frontal nude on stage during one scene and no one, including Amy and myself, objected. Very pretty and an oddly affecting/passionate scene; one of my favorites of the show (and not just for the nudity).
Hair may not be a chart-topping musical of mine or have the most listenable cast recording, but it is a fun and engaging show for a good night out on Broadway. For all of my qualms, the stage version outdoes the film version; therefore, my money was well spent. The show concludes its 10-week run in New York on Saturday, so hit up the St. James theater for seats or find a Hair promotion that best suits you (seriously, they are going ALL OUT in the promotion of their last two weeks).
Oh, and because I adore Lindsey a.k.a Nostalgia Chick, check out the countdown of her top ten songs about fu**ing. Among them, “Sodomy” from Hair, which she describes very accurately (and hilariously). In fact, the video is absolutely brilliant!