On Stage and Off: Redawning Age of Aquarius
by Jesse McKinley
The New York Times - May 11, 2001

With theaters emptying out in the post-Tony nomination flush, several other new Broadway prospects are being bandied about. Where they might land is another question.

The most immediate offering is "Hair," the epochal 1967 "tribal love rock musical," which received a round of supportive reviews during last weekend's revival in the Encores! concert series.

This week two Broadway heavy hitters, Fran and Barry Weissler, who have made a tidy fortune on the Encores! production of "Chicago," and the Frankel/Baruch/Viertel/ Routh Group were vying for the rights to move "Hair" for a commercial run, with all of its flower children intact.

The original "Hair," with book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado and music by Galt MacDermot, ran for 1,750 performances on Broadway. This new version, with minimal set and costumes, broke box office and attendance records at City Center, said Jack Viertel, the Encores! artistic director. The show grossed $661,362 in five days and was seen by 13,298 people.

Biff Liff, the William Morris agent for Mr. Rado, Mr. MacDermot and the estate of Mr. Ragni, who died in 1991, said several players were talking to the show's authors about securing the rights. "They're very happy with the production," Mr. Liff said. "But nothing is firm." Both producing teams will meet with the "Hair" creators next week.

Beyond the good reviews and the nostalgia factor, the musical is appealing for its relatively small size: a cast of 24 and 11 musicians. Last year an attempt to move another Encores! show, "Wonderful Town," was hampered by the need for a larger cast and orchestra.

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