Thursday, September 11, 2008

As Public Hair Recedes From Central Park, It Will Grow Anew On Broadway

As Public Hair Recedes From Central Park, It Will Grow Anew On Broadway

If you're like me and simply won't have the opportunity to take in the Public Theater's free Shakespeare in the Park production of Hair, you'll be happy to know that you'll have a second chance to see it in 2009. But this time, it will cost you.

Just three days before its final September 14 performance at Central Park's Delacorte Theatre, it's been announced that the revival of the "American Tribal Love-Rock Musical" will shift to Broadway early next year. No word yet on casting, but I'm sure it's hoped that Jonathan Groff will once again reprise the role of Berger. CORRECTION: Groff (briefly) had the role of Claude. Thanks to readers for pointing that out.

Originally produced Off-Broadway, the show by Gerome Ragni, James Rado and Galt MacDermot rocked the Great White Way quite literally when it was transferred to Rialto's Biltmore Theatre in April 1968. With a cast that featured Diane Keaton, Melba Moore and the late Paul Jabara, the original production only received two 1969 Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical (it would lose to 1776). But the production would enjoy 1,750 performances until it shuttered on July 1, 1972.

The only Broadway revival opened a mere five years later at the same theatre, but only lasted 43 performances.

I've only seen one production of Hair, and it seemed stuck in a time warp. While the show was downright shocking to 1968 mores, I confess that by the time I saw it, there was no urgency left to any of its messages (of course, I venture that I may have seen it differently against today's backdrop of the Iraq War).

Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing why this particular incarnation enjoyed extension after extension. Let the sunshine in, indeed.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for Public Theatre's ticket information for remaining Central Park performances.

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At 11 September, 2008, Anonymous Chris Caggiano said...

Hey, Steve.

You've probably seen my post by now, on the very same subject. This production was a revelation to me, and didn't seem stuck in time at all, but rather universal. I think it's a show that could very easily suffer from poor or unfocused direction. I'm glad that you're going to have a chance to see it to decide for yourself.

BTW, Groff plays Claude. The demonically frantic Will Swenson plays Berger.

Warmest regards,


At 11 September, 2008, Blogger the artist formerly known as jess. said...

one word: YESSSS.

At 11 September, 2008, Blogger SarahB said...

I was with Chris and while I enjoyed it, I don't see the point of a revival. I didn't find the characters interesting, but the music was great.

At 11 September, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Chris, You know, it could very well have been the direction when I saw it. I had expected considerably more energy and there was none when I saw it all those years ago. Thus, I'm willing to go back and see it again.

Sarah, Appreciate your counterbalance to Chris. I love the music, just for the record!

At 11 September, 2008, Blogger Alicia said...

This brings me much happiness. HAIR is one of my favorite shows, mostly for personal reasons, but a favorite nonetheless. I loved the way Paulus gave it a timeless feel while still maintaining the integrity of the show's original message.

The music is fabulous. Most can agree on that.

The Delacorte's cast was AMAZING. I could see a few casting changes happening but I hope that most go with the transfer - especially Groff, Swenson, Sheik, Ryness and Miller. Hmmm... I wonder if Karen Olivo will find her way back to the role of Sheila, now that she's had a healthy run in IN THE HEIGHTS.

At 11 September, 2008, Blogger Esther said...

I guess it was my youthful infatuation with the sixties, but this is one score I fell in love with long before I ever saw the stage or movie version. I even got the "book" and read it. (Not that there's much of a book!)

"Hair" is definitely one of the shows I wish I could have seen during its original Broadway run. There's a great little clip from the show on "Broadway: The American Musical." It looks like so much fun.

I did have a chance to see "Hair" on stage, in Syracuse about 15 years ago, and I don't remember being totally bowled over by it. Maybe the datedness of it, the thin plot, came through a bit more than I expected.

But still, I have to agree with everyone - the music is so great. I've been listening to the score for decades now and I still love it.

At 11 September, 2008, Blogger Aaron Riccio said...

I hate to be a naysayer . . . but I'm not sure why anyone's surprised that a free concert showed that there was enough interest to bring on a free Shakespeare-in-the-Park production of Hair . . . I don't have the stats, but does any Shakespeare in the Park *NOT* have intense audience interest, just on the grounds of being a free experience? That, in any case, is how I'd describe "Hair": an experience, a three-ring circus of a musical that was at its best in the rebellious outdoors, raging right back against a rather rainy season. Even with the anti-war message, I can't imagine that anything--even a reinstated draft--would compel audiences to pay Broadway prices to see this ragtag show in a stuffy, commercial house. Will I shave off my hair if I'm wrong? Perhaps.

At 11 September, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Aaron, That might make for an interesting bet. But my bet just may be with you, not against you.

At 12 September, 2008, Blogger Anita Levy-Sisk said...

I'd seen the (god-awful) movie, a professional touring company production AND a college production and never felt the love of the show, but only saw its gratuitous and dated side. I wanted to see Hair in the park because I was curious, because I wanted to see Groff in a role OTHER than Melchior, and the because I'd never had the opportunity to see ANYTHING in the park.

I'm one that fell in love with Hair at the Delacourt. I found Paulus gave us a new feel for the piece both making it revelent as while continuing to pay homage to the days that were.

THAT being said: I, too, have my concerns about a transfer. (While I am sure to see it again) will the crowds be back at $120+ a ticket once you've had it for free? I agree that the atmosphere of the park added to the allure of the experience, creating an almost organic draw.

Time will tell.

At 12 September, 2008, Blogger Hula Hank said...

To me Hair is all about the spirit and music, not so much the characters or storyline.

Honestly speaking, the music and styling of Rent has become more dated than Hair.

But I make it no secret that I want to produce direct and star in my own vision of Hair... on an actual stage in an actual theatre and not naked in the bathroom getting ready for work.

My main reason for leaving a comment, which in comparsion to the highly intelligent musings of my fellow readers, was to say that no matter how many times I read the title of this post, My mind keeps eliminating the "L" from "PUBLIC".


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