Brief Report – Public Theater HAIR

Hey guys:

I managed to see “HAIR” last night at the Delacourt…Â While I’d like to give a fuller report later on, the initial impressions I thought I’d throw out for starters.

While much of it was gawd-awful, there were some truly remarkable things about it which were dynamic and thrilling: Some brief scenes restored from earlier versions, a line here and there to clarify location and purpose, really good. Primarily, Sheila’s reports of the treatment endured at anti-war protests– the moment in Claude’s life where his parents hand him the draft notice– the burning of draft cards at the Be-In: very hard-hitting, moving moments.

It was essentially the Broadway version of the show, with some improvements and some streamlining. Though I knew some things were removed, I didn’t miss them. The things added in, I liked alot.

I was particularly surprised there was minimal acknowledgment given to Michael Butler for his role in the show. Yes, Mr. Papp and the NYSF are to be commended highly. However, were it not for Michael Butler’s involvement, “Hair” would likely have been only slightly more than a couple photograph’s from the Public Theater’s history. The NYSF released commitment to the show early on, and it never would have become the world phenomenon that it rightfully has been and is today.

* * *
I sent the following to a friend earlier:

“Had to tell you, I saw HAIR in the park this evening.
Lots to complain about, but a few really terrific things occurred as well.

I plan to write my detailed critique to the list soon, but in brief:Â The friend I went with had never seen it before: he’s a writer and had his own set of responses, very perceptive, so I’m asking to write up his impressions as well.

I was prepared for the worst, but thankfully it wasn’t the worst.

Really missed Tom O’Horgan’s sensibility.

A couple of the tribe in the background looked like they belonged in one of the original companies; right spirit, right looks. The rest looked like actors with wigs. Crissy must’ve been about 29. Berger and Claude were a couple of gym bunnies in tight shirts with ripped abs.

Stupid costumes: looks like they dressed the cast in I. Magnin’s 70’s Collection. And everyone wore shoes.

re Music:Â Ed McMahon and “Starsearch” have caused irreparable damage to musicals.
Value system in play is, no matter what the tune or tempo or lyric, belt it out loud and smile in a pleasing manner to make sure that people will like you. Yet everyone pinches their throat so they’ll make that tinny sound you get when you play a radio. “Aquarius” featured a bunch of grinning furbies wailing their lungs out. Still a great song, but put my teeth on edge for the rest of act 1.

The character stuff relating to Sheila and her involvement in protests, Claude’s scenes with his parents, the draft card burning at the be-in: Shattering. Really teriffic, dynamic stuff which put impact like stakes to the heart. Claude’s trip in act 2 had no relation to O’Horgan’s staging, yet was brilliant on its own merits.

The whole audience seemed to be in their fifties and up. Couple of the chicks put on head bands. I don’t know why. It’s not like their coming to “Rocky Horror.”

More later…”

As I said… more later.




This entry was posted on Thursday, August 21st, 2008 at 1:17 PM and filed under Uncategorized. Follow comments here with the RSS 2.0 feed. Skip to the end and leave a response. Trackbacks are closed.

2 Responses to “Brief Report – Public Theater HAIR”

  1. Gibson DelGiudice said:

    I’m much in agreement about the casting, particularly Jonathan Groff, who was playing Claude until recently (a prior commitment during the extension dates meant Christopher Hanke was called in to replace him). Word is that if there will be a transfer, they’re waiting until 2009 so they can have him. Broadway star wattage he may be, but Claude Hooper Bukowski he is not.

    Basically, the comments are all the same on it. However, most reports also love the costumes and set. The revisions were also the talk of the park the night I went. People felt that they really focused the show.

    Personally, I think the show could benefit from some tightening. Bring in Bo Crowell and some cast members from the Met Theatre production to tighten it up and make it more real, and then it would truly shine. And keep Jonathan Groff out of it completely. Then I think it would really work. But I’m no theatre expert, nor is my opinion well-regarded, so who cares?

  2. Mike Blaxill said:

    some folks are comparing it to O’Horgan which might be unfair .. sort of like comparing someone to Mozart. A lot to nit pick over re what worked, what didn’t etc. Bottom line is a lot of talented people got to put up Hair in a beautiful setting and i think the glowing reviews reflect that.

    Of the leads I really liked were Berger, Hud, Dionne, Margaret Mead and Megan Lawrence who added tons as Claude’s mom and a hilarious buddhist monk. Everyone else was also really strong, imho. I’ve heard various complaints about past Claudes so it seems that even for a professional nyc production its a tough part to nail/cast. I guess Groff isn’t perfect but he puts a lot of energy into it and he sings great.

    One of the things the revisions do is reveal more about Claude and the motivation behind his decisions .. so as a result the ending might be less of a shock, you see Claude’s death coming.

    my 2 cents…

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