To hear members of the cast talk about it Hair is akin to a revival - it has the power to change people, audience and cast alike.
Although most of the actors in the show shared the sentiments expressed on stage before they joined the cast, "It has changed us," said Jonathon Johnson, who plays Woof in the show, and who is accompanied on the tour by his wife Robin, and their eight-month old daughter, Mo.
"We're more sensitive, we touch people easier, we love people easier." he said.
"A lot of people have been changed by Hair" said jennifer Lee, who plays Crissy in the production which opened last night at the brown Theatre. "My parents were changed by it. They've opened up."
She said she was in the San Francisco company when her brother drowned. The whole cast attended the memorial for him and sang there. Soon, everyone was singing, she said. "Even the straight people there were changed; their whole outlook was different." she said.
"It's brought a lot of people together."
Johnson said when he was in the Miami company, the rock musical was attended by Mr. & Mrs. Elliott Roosevelt. "They wanted to leave after the first act, but by the end of the second act they were crying. They invited the whole cast to their house."
Off-stage, the cast is very much as it is on stage, Johnson and Miss Lee said. "These are all things we believe in - peace, love. And the closeness is the same off stage" they agreed.
Johnson said that Mo has "40 other parents in the company." The show is suitable for any child to see, he said.
"It's not at all obscene, it's beautiful" he said, though some observers have "twisted it" and do consider it obscene. He said he took his seven-year-old sister to see it. The next morning she was asked what she planned to tell her friends at school. She said she would tell them how beautiful Aquarius is.
"What about the nude scene?" her mother asked.
"What about it?" the child replied.
Miss Lee said her parents had objected to the nudity, but she "conditioned them" so that when they finally saw it, they accepted it as part of the show. the scene is "like when the first flower child was, and then he wasn't" she said.
This cast was drawn from companies all over the country and played in Chicago for three weeks before going on the road. It's one of the youngest casts, with actors and actresses ranging in age from 18 to 26. Johnson has played in Seattle, Miami, and San Francisco. he had never acted before he got the job in Seattle.
That company always had an "Om" before it went on, he said. Another one went through sensitivity exercises before the show. This cast has not yet established such a routine, but it probably will soon, he said. ("Om" is a Hindu symbol for the absolute, the relative and the relationship between them. Chanting "Om" is a sensitivity exercise.)
Although many members of the companies he's worked with have lived the life-style represented on stage, some have not. "It's like the first breath of air to them." he said.
The show, which first opened in 1968, "may be outdated to some of the younger generation, but not to the people who need to be more sensitive." Johnson said.
"The topic wouldn't ever be outdated - that people should get together; love; peace and stop the war" Miss Lee said. "Maybe when the war is outdated..."
Copyright 1971 The Louisville Kentucky Courier-Journal.