You can't go home again, as Thomas Wolfe said, and you can't grow HAIR again, as seems clear from the Broadway revival of the 1967 sensation that at least dented the chrome trim of the American musical theater. Right away, when the cast in their tribal regalia fans out into the theater, declaring their love for the members of the audience, you don't believe it. They're perfectly nice kids, doing a gig, but for some reason you don't love them back. A lot has happened in the decade since Hair first blew in our eyes, and the Revelation According to St. Hippie is both too close chronologically and too distant emotionally to work now.
Even the original Broadway Hair was never really convincing as litergy. What worked was the original original Hair, the production that opened Joseph Papp's Public Theater in New York, directed by Gerald Freeman. Tom O'Horgan's Broadway staging was a brilliant explosion of energy, but it tarted up the book by Gerome Ragni and James Rado, eliminating the pathos that humanized the Dionysiac rites of the flower children's crusade. GAlt MacDermot's score is an inviolable historic acheivment in theatricizing rock, but even such splendid songs as "Aquarius", "Air", and "Good Morning Starshine" oddly lack musical conviction in O'Horgan's strained second comming. Angel-faced kristin Vigard is the nicest of a cast that, sad to say, lacks true charm, but even little Kristin, when she sings the teeny-bopper love lament "Frank Mills", is merely sweet, whereas Shelley Plimpton ten years ago broke your heart. As for the legendary nudity, it's now, er, flat. Lori Wagner symbolizes the problem. She has a beautiful body, but you can see that she knows. After such knowledge, what forgiveness?
Copyright Newsweek Corp.
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