Eyes Open At The Met

 Last Thursday I went to see Hair at the Met Theater in Hollywood with my wife and my best friend (who, in high school, had a jungle of hair tumbling down to the middle of his back, much to my envy. His is now cut short and thinning. My own has gone quite gray.) My friend and I had both experienced the wonderful Candlefish Theater production back in 1998 and ’99 and I was hoping to relive that high and, as well, to share the experience with my wife. We were not disappointed! Below is a letter I sent to the director and tribe of the ’98 production. I think it articulates my feelings about the Met production, as well:

    I am writing to thank you for what I can only call an epiphany. It has been over two weeks now since I saw your production of HAIR on November 1st and since then I’ve been grappling with the best way to convey its effect on me. I do not consider myself a religious person, so perhaps epiphany, with its Christian roots, is an odd word choice. A revelation did occur, however, a moment of brilliant clarity, not so much an insight to which I could ascribe words but rather a sense of new sight wherein the world becomes suddenly vivid, immediate, tangible, alive with possibilities. Like taking certain drugs. Like falling in love. A definite high!
     HAIR, indeed, captures the Zeitgeist of the period. Your production does not, however, dust off a relic of nostalgia (“How cute! How quaint! Look at the Hippies!”); It breathes fire into the work. You have brought to life a world devoted to transcendence through transgression, where cunnilingus and pederasty share a lyrical stage with Jesus and God. New Age mysticism meets Christianity meets Krishna Consciousness, and Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll are sacrament. Here, also, street savvy coexists with touching naiveté and the summer of Love struggles against a winter of discontent.
     Above all else, HAIR , when done right, is great theater. The only other performance of the musical I’ve seen, besides a brave yet tepid high school production, was at the Aquarius Theater in October of 1970. I was fifteen years-old and found the experience exhilarating. I’ve seen the movie and I have the Original Broadway Cast Recording on C.D. But seeing HAIR performed at the Candlefish, sitting in the front row of your intimate theater, being right there, witnessing top-notch staging and choreography, a powerful ensemble, super-fine musicianship, and vibrant, potent, lovely performances,  I was, well, blown away. It was such a singular experience, I found it hard to believe that many performances had preceded it and more were to follow.
    Congratulations and thanks again!  I will rediscover the sensation this coming Saturday. My eyes are open. Let the sun shine in!

I went on to see four more shows at the Candlefish, including the very last one followed by an end of run party. The production at the Met Theater under Bo Crowell’s excellent direction is more expansive (due, partly to the more expansive venue) while retaining the intimacy. My wife and I are looking forward to seeing another show there, though the ticket price, unfortunately for us, prohibits any more than that.

One more thing: this past Thursday I came to truly understand how improtant the energy exchange between performers and audience is to a show like Hair. At the end of the show, singing “Let The Sunshine In”, jumping out of my front row seat and onto the stage, dancing in the midst of a tribe of vibrant young performers (and other spirited audience members) I did not find it strange to be embracing strangers; the power of theater, and of this life-affirming musical especially, had made possible a heartfelt communication that transcends everyday interaction. Here was created a magical realm where love and peace, brotherhood and sisterhood, are possible — at least for a couple of hours!



This entry was posted on Saturday, October 6th, 2007 at 2:49 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.

Leave a Reply

*Required (Not published)