It may not please the young people in Hair to be told that the most winning quality of their show is its air of innocence. The so-called "American tribal love-rock musical," which had its Broadway opening at the Biltmore Theater last night, is strewn with four-letter words and goes in for a few tentative forays into nudity, but, although they try pretty hard to be bold and outrageous, their rescuing virtue is their inescapable youthful naiveté.
There is also to the evenings credit the rock score by Galt MacDermot. Music with a rock beat has way os sounding the same to me, and there is no number in Hair that stands out in my memory. But Mr. MacDermot's songs have a pleasant lift to them, and the eager young performers know how they should be put over, which is with zest. Then there is the advantage that the talented Tom O'Horgan has staged the production with a feeling for speed.
The "book," if it may be called that, by Gerome Ragni and James Rado is no doubt trying to be shocking. It has its fling at sacrilege, it is scornful towards the flag, and it is particularly and childishly fond of the most familiar four-letter epithets. It isn't witty or particularly funny. But the boys and girls of the company, strive as they may to seem terribly sophisticated, are so guileless about it that it appears almost touching.
The title is, I gather, symbolic. The shaggy locks of the boys stand for virility, and, when deprived of them, they are compared to shorn Samsons. This is what happens to one who is going to be sent to Vietnam. But Hair isn't strong in its moments of propaganda. The young fellow, when he loses his flowing hirsute adornment, looks so much better than he did before the surgery that it becomes quite an argument in favor of the army.
Hair is a show that must be taken on its own terms. As an example of the rock beat in musicals, it can't compare to Your Own Thing and some of it seems uncomfortably amateurish and a little tiresome. And its wistful attempt to outrage the peasantry can be irritating because it is unnecessary. But it has a surprising if perhaps unintentional charm, its high spirits are contagious, and it young zestfulness make it difficult to resist.
A lovely young blonde named Lynn Kellogg seems to me the most interesting member of the cast, but all of them work diligently and amiably. LAst night the male disrobing scene was brief, timid and no contribution to beauty. The spectators were noisily bent on showing their kinship with the spirit of the times, but, even if there was a square in the audience, I'm sure he wasn't fooled when actors dressed as policemen pretended to stop the show at the end of the first act.
Copyright The New York Post.