arts

Hair Revival

Hair protestorsI’m guessing that there are a lot of boomers who like to revive their hair, as in get a lot more on top and in the back. They may have to settle for the next best thing, which is the return of the original Broadway show, “Hair.” Although I have not seen the revival in person, the show appears to be thrilling the audience of boomers and those much younger, almost as much as it thrilled audiences 41 years ago.

This time it’s staged outdoors at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park on a grass covered stage, which gives that added flavor of a love-in.

Call it a time warp if you want, but the plot revolving around hippies conflicted about an unjust war and trying to come to a decision about being drafted or burning their draft cards can still resonate with people who think of war as a last resort.

 

And the music….well it’s still great! There’s a naïve energy to it that transports you back to a time when a lot of new ground was being broken. Some could mistake it for quaintness, but most of the younger audience seems to groove on the idealism and earnestness that typified the times.

Not much can shock today’s cable TV viewers, Hair castbut imagine the hysteria surrounding the show 41 years ago. The original Broadway production was really the first rock musical and it brought a heady blend of drugs, sex, nudity and flag irreverence to the stage that had never been seen before. The integrated cast even invited the audience up on stage for a be-in finale – so when was the last time you saw that?

It’s worth remembering that the original production in 1968 followed the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, as well as man walking on the moon. The play was more political, call it revolutionary even, than anything ever seen before on the Great White Way. And the anti-war message was uncompromising.

Still, what I remember most is the quality of the music and lyrics (the book and lyrics were by James Rado and Gerome Ragni and music was by Galt MacDermot). Songs such as Easy to be Hard, Hair, What a Piece of Work Is Man, Aquarius, Good Morning Starshine, and Let the Shine In. They spoke to a whole generation in a way that songs from South Pacific or Oklahoma never did, and never would.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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