opened March 31, 2009 – Al Hirschfeld Theatre

Hair was first produced in 1967 by Joseph Papp, founder of the NY Shakespeare Festival.  It opened off-Broadway at the renovated Astor Library Building on Lafayette Street in Lower Manhattan and played for six weeks.  That ended Papp’s involvement.  He had no desire to take it to Broadway. 

But the times were right for a pop musical with an anti-war message, so six months later, off to Broadway it went. 

Last season’s Central Park revival was such a success that the Public Theatre, also a Papp creation, decided to bring it back to Broadway.

So here it is in its original Broadway form.  The actors are up and down the aisles in the orchestra and balcony, dancing, handing out flyers, hugging audience members and generally including us in the production.  Personally I love this kind of involvement.  Up close and personal.  The choreography–twenty-eight players if I count correctly–is impossible, yet it works. 

Early on a litany of sexual words and racial epithets are sung into irrelevance and we know that white and black are one, sexuality is unabashed;  long hair is good, war is bad.  Leaders and followers within the tribe are equals and the only adversary is The Establishment.  Black actors sing “Colored Spade” which uses words no white person could possibly utter in polite company.  It is shocking, yet somehow just fine.

This revival is well-timed.  We are again at war in a difficult insurgent situation which we, as a nation, are weary of.

After the show, again true to the original production, the audience is invited onstage to dance with the cast.  Nice touch.

Andrew Kober, in his Broadway debut, excels in dual roles of Margaret Mead and Dad.  He seems sure to be back soon.

The full frontal nude scene by male and female actors alike is intact.  A historical note:  in the original, Diane Keaton declined to participate in this scene.  I didn’t count bodies.  Perhaps they were all there this time, perhaps not.

The book was written by Gerome Ragni and James Rado, the music by Galt MacDermot.  Some great songs:  Aquarius, Let the Sun Shine In, Good Morning Starshine, Black Boys/White Boys, What a Piece of Work is Man, Easy to be Hard and the haunting ballad Frank Mills.

The play is timely as was Bob Dylan.  In another age neither would be heard of.  As it happens, both are icons of American History.