If you’re a young person who sighs because you were born too late to experience the peace, love, and flower power of the 60’s (and I’ve known quite a few), or if you’re a boomer who wants to re-live those halcyon days, then Broadway Across America’s current revival of “Hair,” at the Fox through May 22, is for you.
This Tony-winning 2009 Best Musical Revival, reported on in these pages two years ago in our “Broadway-Atlanta Connection” series, is of course based on the original 1968 Broadway production, conceived and performed during the height of the Vietnam War. The book and lyrics are by Gerome Ragni and James Rado, and the music is by Galt MacDermot. Mr. Rado participated in the Broadway revival and communed with the new generation of actors to give them a real sense of what life in the 60’s was like, reports Kathy Janich in her article for the theatre program.
“Gimme a head with hair; long, beautiful hair, shining, gleaming, streaming flaxen waxen,” sings Berger, Claude, and the “Tribe” in the show’s title song. “This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius” goes the galvanizing first number; “Let the Sun Shine In” invites you to join the cultural revolution based on love and joy, and you are invited on stage to dance with the cast, if you wish. When was the last time that happened?
“Hair” is essentially a celebration of the power and joy of youth. When I saw it in New York in 2009, I had a front row seat, and it was a transcendent experience. Okay, here I go again: the Fox, beloved old palace that it is, is really too big for an intimate live theatre experience. That’s why it’s imperative to get the best seats possible; and even then many shows are dwarfed in the cavernous Fox.
But somehow magic still happens; however, this theatre puts “the willing suspension of disbelief” to the test. So get as close as you can to the stage. End of lecture.
The revival is directed by Diane Paulus, who deservedly won a Tony. Actors Paris Remillard, Steel Burkhardt, Caren Lyn Tackett, Matt DeAngelis, Kaitlin Kiyan, and Darius Nichols are standouts in a cast full of standouts. The terrific band is strategically placed upstage left. The “Tribe” roams around the theatre when the mood strikes. They are an enormously appealing, talented bunch of hippies. You may fall in love. You’ll at least get a flower.
Act II has its “dark night of the soul” as Claude, who’s been drafted, imagines the horrors and nightmares of war. But the triumph of this legendary show is that we’re not left in the nightmare. Instead, we’re encouraged to “let the sun shine in,” literally and spiritually. “Hair” is an explosion of color and music and joy.
If you’ve never seen it, or if you need a sexy, sweet, spiritual lift, then “The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” might be just your ticket.
For tickets and information visit www.foxtheatre.org.