Hair is still alive and well in its sixth week at the Moore theater.
I checked in at the show last weekend for the first time since it opened on April 18, and I'm happy to report that this exuberantly theatrical piece has not only held up but actually improved during its run.
The show has improved partly because the young actors have become more secure in their roles, but primarily because they have managed to get closer to the polemical, satirical core of the show.
Hair is a celebration of youthful life and love, but it is also a sharp attack on the individual and collective hang-ups which prevent that life and love from being appreciated to the fullest.
Hair's thrusts at the adult "establishment" - at the war, the draft, pollution, and other examples of societal insanity and uptight, phony rectitude - now have more point and bite than they had on opening night. The show is tougher, harder - and better.
The most remarkable thing is that this new sharpness has been achieved without any sacrifice of the actors spinning-off-in-all-directions energy and their obvious joy in working together, which were the principal delights of the opening performance.
The considerable energy level of the show has not been diminished a whit by the routine of repeated performances, and the kids' joy in making the stage come alive together, and in making a life statement together is still clear, engaging and altogether contagious.
As Claude, the young man who gets drafted, Skip Bowe has developed more acting and vocal strength than he had on opening night. Tyrone Miles as Hud and Eric (no last name) as Berger are still marvelously happy and exuberant, but both have properly become tougher than they were at the opener.
Janis Gotti (Sheila) is an attractive girl with a good voice, but she could do with a little help in her acting, especially in putting across "Easy To Be Hard", the best song in the show and one of the best songs of the last decade.
In other principal roles, Karen Gardner (Jeanie), Rooth Dye (Crissy), and Jonathon Johnson (Woof) continue to do good work. Kevin Mason, who comes on as a middle-aged woman dressed in a fur coat, is still having great fun with the role. Last weekend I missed Tony Lake, who was ill. this roly-poly charmer was a delight on opening night.
The principal nit i would pick with Hair on second seeing is that the cast tended to breeze through some of the short gag situations and one-liners too casually. Many lines that were rib-splitters on opening night zipped by with little or no audience response last Friday night.
This was partly because the audience was less vocally enthusiastic than the opening night audience, and partly because the actors didn't regularly punch the lines as they did at the opener.
The problem is one that occurs in any long running show; actors tend to forget that good lines, funny lines just don't "sell" themselves. They have to be "sold" - and they have to be "sold" especially hard if the audience seems not to be digging them.
Hair at the Moore is now the longest running major show in Seattle's theater history - at least in modern times.
Until recently the record was held by "My Fair Lady", which played four weeks at the Orpheum Theater in 1962. that show was presented by northwest Releasing Corporation, which is also producing Hair along with Michael Butler who bankrolled the show on Broadway and subsequent- (one line missing here....)
William Owens, president of Northwest Releasing, said that the Seattle Hair has taken in "close to $400,000" since it opened. This includes the weekly grosses, which have been nearly $60,000 for each week the show has run, as well as the revenue from advance sales.
"I think the show will run six months at least," said Owens. "Others are more optimistic. The show looks good and solid now, and I'm sure we'll have a substantial run."
Owens said the show is selling out on weekends (one show on Friday, two on Saturday) and is doing good business at the other performances. It is running at about 85 per cent od audience capacity and 75 per cent of financial capacity (the letter figure is smaller the former because of "student rush" sales and special lower-priced matinees).
Owens added that the ticket deadline has been extended another month - from June 14 to July 14. This does not mean that the show is ending on July 14 but that, during the next few weeks, tickets will be sold only for performances through July 14.
Copyright The Seattle Times. All rights reserved.