Well, you can’t win ‘em all. I know I’m probably the salmon fighting upstream on this one.
The thing I saw at the Shubert Monday night is, and has been, a big hit through out America and many parts of the world.
Hair struck me as an old Major Bowes Amateur Night show. Except the Major was not there to strike the gong.
The suspicion would be that the players in Hair have much more fun than the audience.
The applause was weak and came primarily from young people in the Shubert – probably the bulk of the audience Monday night.
The laughter was sparse in those rare moments when the cast stopped shouting lyrics that could not be understood and tried to project little jokes.
The Shubert stage looked like a rumpus room. The kids were all playing the hi-fi real loud and dancing and laughing and kissing and hugging.
You expect them finally to get their jimmies on and get to bed for the pajama party.
It’s that kind of musical – infantile in concept and execution.
The cast members, whose bare feet looked very clean, are assuredly steady bathers when off stage. But the clothing, the long hair, the dinginess of the rumpus room set created almost a smell of uncleanliness.
That’s the feeling I sensed. Sorry, Hair tribe. But you’re up there to see how an audience accepts you.
Dull show. Too long. Too repetitive. How many times can a guy see simulated sex on a stage? See loving hugs.
Now let’s get to the finale of the first act. See, this cat names Claude is singing a rather pretty and meaningful song.
He has just decided to burn his draft card, even though his buddies have burned theirs (sic).
Everyone is horror stricken. You know, democracy at work. Poor Claude doesn’t have the right to not burn his draft card.
So he sings “Where Do I Go?” As noted, a nice gentle tune.
Well, while Claude is wondering about that, the rest of the cast crawls beneath a big drape they have spread on the stage floor.
Claude sings on. And we see the cast members, as if housed in a large cocoon, undressing.
The Claude hits the climax. The kids all come out of the cocoon. They are – well, I can’t spell it out, but they are naked.
Now this alleged dramatic moment has gotten hair a bad name in some quarters.
It should have gotten it big laughs. To see somewhat scrawny and scrawnily endowed young people standing full front in a dim light, nude, is silly looking.
The human body, as any painter or photographer can tell you, must be lighted up, posed properly to look artistic.
A bunch of kids standing there naked have little to elevate the human soul – and they are not dirty in the accepted sense of that word when used sexually.
Just silly. You could achieve the same effect by stripping a couple dozen chickens of their feathers and have them pose on stage.
Frankly, Hair, like “Oh! Calcutta!” that preceded it here via TV screen, is a total bore.
And in the scenes where the people might have acted, the lines were played with the spirit of an elementary school student out on the boards, frightened, for the first time. Flat readings of purported comedy.
Hair is billed in the program as “Broadway’s Biggest Hit in History.” So, who wants to argue? Maybe it is.
Michael Butler is the producer. Book and lyrics are by Gerome Ragni and James Rado. Glat MacDermot wrote the music.
Gregory V. Karliss in the role of Berger was the most efficient on stage. Alan Martin played Claude. Other leads were handled by Oney Sunio, Frankie Karl, Patricia Keene, Susan Allanson and Karin Patterson.
Copyright The Cincinnati Enquirer.
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