After the seasons weirdest publicity buildup, they gave Hair its official opening last evening at the Biltmore Theater. The show is subtitled "the American Love-Rock Musical" and I guess that fits it whatever it means.
I guess the producer, Michael Butler, is waiting for me to damn this whatsit as cheap, vulgar, foul-mouthed and tasteless so he can make some of his money back. And so it is.
But it has some other qualities which I liked - particularly the zestful abandon of the young cast, the dances staged by Julie Arenal and some of the songs written by Gerome Ragni, James Rado and Galt MacDermot.
The show on my side of the footlights was pretty funny too. They had stunk up the theater with inscence and dead flowers - early goldenrod, I think - and the audience included many elderly gentlemen wearing goiter-sweaters, chains and beads who must have thought they were helling around as if they had just come up from the East Village instead of down from Central Park West.
"Tribal love-rock" is not my type of music , for I was brought up on "Traumerel", "Souvenir" and "Glow Worm". It is just too damned loud, being insanely electronified like Eddie Fisher. I couldn't hear all the words for the racket. Just as well, no doubt, for the sponsers of Hair have been promising to use lots of dirty words. I did manage to understand a few, but I didn't faint.
They also promised a Big Nude Scene, with a few nekkid boys and girls aiming right at me. I didn't faint here either, for the stage was dimly lit.
The best title for the show would be "The Dirty Foot Follies" for hardly anyone in this twitchy, itchy extravaganza wears shoes and they all kept running up and down the center aisle waving their calluses at me.
I did see at least one pretty girl, Lynn Kellogg, and she sang a pretty song called "I Believe In Love". The vocal burden of the show seems to fall to James Rado, Gerome Ragni, Steve Curry and Lamont Washington - but the entire big company sings as enthusiastically as it dances.
Tom O'Horgan has kept the production going at an insane pace, and the scenic effects by Robin Wagner are picturesque. As one might expect, the costumes by Nancy Potts are psychedelic. But Hair is no show to take a lady to. End of plug.
Copyright The New York Daily News.