More on Hair at the Met theater in LA

Some more reviews are in!

First off a blog entry about the show ifrom writer Don Cummings’ blog :

This afternoon, I got in my car which was parked near the hardscrabble intersection of Overland and the entrance ramp to the 10 Freeway. If you live in Los Angeles, you might recall this section of town as a place with many ramps, bridges, medians and weeds. In one of the medians was a man with a sign that read, “Vietnam Vet. Disabled. Just Hungry. Can you Help?” He limped. He was old. He continuously moved his jaw up and down as if he were chewing or something—the kind of action you see in an old Hitchcock movie when it wants to be made clear that “this old guy is sort of nuts and falling apart.”

I didn’t give him any money. I honestly only had twenties. However, I did have quarters. But I need those for parking. I felt bad for the guy, truly, but I did nothing to help him. Next, I had my privileged day and went to the theatre. Which woke me up.

We saw HAIR, the 40th anniversary production at the MET Theatre. HAIR is presented by the original Broadway producer, Michael Butler, a very affable guy whom we met in the very convenient $5 parking lot.

Guys, go see it. It’s fabulous. I have never seen the play before. Sure, I saw that Twyla Tharp movie of it (a few times) which was so 1979 does 1968. And I actually liked the movie. For the music. But the play is a much more enjoyable experience. The extremely loose nature of the narrative, the be-in philosophy, the fun sketchy bits, the lovely celebration of life, light, color and flesh really do work on your senses and your soul that by the end, when they drag the audience up onstage to clap to LET THE SUNSHINE IN, you are not only happy to go, you are pretty much in love with everyone in the room.

Of course, Galt MacDermot’s music is still the big star here. My favorite songs, both in composition and execution, were Ain’t Got No, Frank Mills, Black Boys/White Boys, Walking in Space & What a Piece of Work is Man. These, of course, are not the greatest hits, but that’s usual for my taste. Singing talent varies some, but it’s really not much of a problem. There are some standout singers. When you go, you can hear them for yourself.

The cast is gorgeous, talented, honest, generous, extremely present and filled with some kind of special love. To be in their presence, even if they were to be doing nothing more than humming the phone book, is worth the price of admission.

I do not want to give short shrift to Ragni’s and Rado’s script. It is infused with the full awareness of some positive life force, a wonderment that is especially coursing in the blood during the coming-of-age season in life. The writers juxtapose this natural, positive energy against a society that is willing to take these beautiful young adults and have them killed. It is really quite shocking, an enormous tragedy and obviously relates to today’s situation in Iraq. By the time the sardonic What a Piece of Work is Man is sung, overlooking the mock carcasses of a recognizable sampling of different groups of people who have killed each other during the last few centuries, you realize, intellectually, this is where the whole story has led and it’s like being hit with a plank. Then, emotionally, you feel completely saddened by the fragile, confused psyche of the human species and its ability to twist into the insane direction of fear, greed and thoughtless carnage. This play makes you want to make sure that not only do you remain conscious every second of your life, but that your life, in fact, needs to also be about awaking consciousness in others.

Do I have to mention again how great the music is?

Really, go see the play.

Personal Hair History:

I was too young to see the play when it came out. I remember, in Peekskill, my Uncle Gene had the album and it was totally taboo and we were not allowed to listen to it.
Years later, I was Berger in a production of HAIR at Harvard (Tufts and Harvard shared hams) which I had to quit because, basically, it was a terrible production, completely rewritten in the worst way. Then, in the late eighties in New York City, I was offered the role of Berger in a German touring production—but just to take over for a few weeks so the real Berger could have a Christmas break. I didn’t take the gig because my ego was bruised, being offered nothing more than a mere replacement jaunt. I did meet Ragni and Rado, the creators, during the endless days of auditions. Old, fun, nutty Hippies. Hard to tell exactly who was gay between them. The audition process was much like the play—sort of wild and without boundaries and I was put off by it. I didn’t get it exactly. I was never meant to be in HAIR, I guess. But often, I sit at the piano and pound out Easy to Be Hard or Walking in Space.

And here is a review from

No gray roots in this colorful 40-ish `Hair’

On September 25, 2007

‘Drop Acid, Not Bombs!’


You could talk a lot about how the Met Theatre’s 40th anniversary production of “Hair” compares to the original, which premiered on Broadway in 1968 and stood as a reflection of the counterculture, anti-war, peace-love-and-happiness generation of its time.

You could debate whether it still works, now that America has outgrown the flower-power era from which it was born.

But how about asking whether “Hair” works on its own? If a show about a clan of passionate kids protesting America’s agenda while high and happy and frustrated were written today (you could argue, it has been with “Rent”), would it be the great “American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” that “Hair” was when it opened in New York City?

Well, probably not. It’s not going to rev up any revolutionaries to go protest the draft or picket outside the Pentagon. But who cares? As a chunk of musical nostalgia full of catchy numbers and a vibrant young cast, it’s worth seeing.

“Hair” begins the moment you walk into the theater. The 27 colorfully clad members of its hippie “tribe” mingle with audience members in the aisles, socialize onstage and pass joints among themselves (they’re probably not real, but who knows).

Incense burns in the air, and the theater – a 99-seat space small enough for every ticket to be a good one (but don’t sit in front unless you want to be picked out) – even smells like pot. How’s that for immersive theater?

A few songs into the show, it’s quickly apparent that there’s no real story to “Hair.” Mostly, it’s a well-choreographed collection of performances and songs by a flock of tie-dyed and flower-skirted Vietnam War protesters (and friends) who would rather “Drop Acid, Not Bombs.”

What plot there is revolves around Claude and Berger (played by Lee Ferris and James Barry), tribe members who are evading the draft with varying degrees of conviction. Claude becomes reluctant to burn his draft card and eventually is sent to war – but not before a spectacularly creative staging of a very bad, very dreamlike acid trip (a series of scenes involving a black Abraham Lincoln, a tribe of American Indians and Scarlett O’Hara).

This is not a show for the kids. The famous nude scene, when several cast members appear in the buff, is still here, as is a litany of frank references to drugs, racism, blasphemy, sexuality and sodomy.Besides its obvious divergence from Broadway’s other neatly packaged, kid-friendly musicals, “Hair” made history as the first rock musical, spawning a slew of others including “Tommy,” “Grease” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

Its chart-topping songs – including “The Age of Aquarius” and “Let the Sun Shine In” – are still popular today.

And it’s no coincidence that original Broadway producer Michael Butler jumped on board to produce this version of “Hair” today. After all, a country divided by an unpopular war? It all sounds vaguely familiar.

In the end, you don’t have to be an ex-hippie or an anti-war activist to appreciate “Hair.” Sure, it’s chaotic at times, has no real plot and is long (running more than three hours).

But there’s just something about it that feels real. It’s like dusting off your parents’ teen-angst-ridden high school diary and getting a vicarious glimpse of the times.–Melissa Heckscher



This entry was posted on Friday, September 28th, 2007 at 3:06 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.

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