Hair: Hip Hootenanny
by William A. Raidy
Long Island Press - April 30, 1968

I have just visited Teenybopper Island....and the experience was quite volcanic.  Teenybopper Island is what the encampment at Hair, the American tribal-love rock musical, calls "their crowd."  The crowd is as weird and likable as ever and I must tell you about it.

The first thing I noticed when I sat down at the Biltmore Theatre was a semi-nude hippie wriggling around on the floor next to my aisle seat.  It was an omen of things to come!

Tom O'Horgan has directed this new version of hair and he most certainly has made it a hippie hootenanny.  Most of the plot of the original show, first produced under the banner of the New York Shakespeare Festival Theatre, has been abandoned.  No one seemed to miss it last night.

hair, as they say downtown, may not be everybody's bag.  If you're young at heart, it certainly will be a gas.  the hippies stick their thumb to the nose at everything from the Gettysburg Address to Miss Liberty, who comes on cross-eyed.

hair bristles with youth.  It is really more outrageous than original.  Everybody gets his licks from jesus to L.B.J.  It is anti-war, anti-art,, anti-establishment, anti-everything.  Oh, excuse me, it's pro-peace and pro-love.  The banners wave some slogans not for a family newspaper.  The nicest one says: "Love is a four letter word."

Gerome Ragni and James Rado, who wrote the book and lyrics for Hair, both play major roles in this new version.  They are both endowed with talent and charm, as well as plenty of nerve.

Originally,. I admired hair for its rather unsophisticated freshness.  This updated version is like giving the thing a Ziegfield Follies twist.  The production is very lavish and has a topical review flavor to boot.  (Things are now more yip than hip).

Director O'Horgan has staged this orgy with a great deal of imagination.  I thank him for keeping the psychedelic ball rolling...all color and madness.

Galt MacDermot's music still comes forth with a strong beat in such numbers as "I Believe In Love", "Black Boys", and "Manchester" (Other numbers have such titles as "Sodomy", "Hashish", and "Colored Spade").  every so often the orchestra sounds like a bunch of bicycle bells, but that's part of the fun.

Much of the irreverence of Hair is a great deal of fun.  I particularly enjoyed the hip Gettysburg Address.  Abe Lincoln is a Negro girl chanting: "honey, I said ALL men"...with an Ink Spots harmony background.

Am I leaving anything out?

Oh, yes, I almost forgot.  Everybody took off all his clothes at the end of the first act.  That was quite an experience, too.

Copyright The Long Island Press.

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