Rome test: Bracing for Hair
By Robert Ghisays
Newark Evening News – August 20, 1970

ROMW (Reuters) – Seventeen countries have seen it since 1967, and now Hair is coming to Italy.

The love-rock musical, which made a revolutionary break-through in the field of musical comedy, is likely to cause consternation and possibly some embarrassment to middle-class Italians when it opens September 3.

Any attempt to involve the audience in the activities on stage may be met by embarrassed shrugs or open annoyance – except for young, long-haired “swingers” – as many Italians are usually restrained in public.

If the 26 members of the cast succeed in involving the audience, as has happened in other countries –even Princess Anne joined the cast on stage in Britain – it will be a major victory for them and director Victor Spinetti.

Spinetti, a Welshman of Italian origin, has appeared in the Beatles’ films, a Hard Day’s Night and Help!, and acted on stage in The Odd Couple and at Britain’s National Theater in John  Lennon’s In His own Write.

He directs the cast, many of whom have never been on stage before, “In broken Italian, but with love,” said one girl.

Spinetti also directed the Amsterdam version of Hair.

Many of the cast are non-Italians.  They include Edgar Alegre a 25-year old fashion designer from the Philippines; Farid Bendall, A French actor of Turkish ancestry, and Americans Ann Collin, Ronny Jones, Ronn Madenebro and Elizabeth Gavaris.

Jones, from Boston, said he had never seen Hair performed, but had no difficulty getting into the cast “because there aren’t many black Italians.”

Among the Italians are two children of noted parents – Carlo de Mejo, sone of Italian actress Alida valli, and Luisa de Santis, daughter of “Bitter Rice” director Zuseppe de Santis.

Giuseppe Patroni Griffi, a leading Italian playwright responsible for the adaptation into Italian, said the nude scene at the end of the first act is an expression of liberation, but if the cast could not strip in Rome – because of fears of legal proceedings – it would make no difference.  “The message is the same.”

Hair has already appeared in the United States, Britain, West Germany, Austria, France, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Brazil, Mexico, Yugoslavia, Israel, Canada, Australia, Finland, and Belgium.
Copyright Newark Evening News.

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