Running since March 2009 The Tony-winning revival of the revolutionary 'tribal love-rock musical,' which had audiences (and critics) dancing in the aisles at the Hirshfeld, is back on Broadway for a limited summer run at the St. James. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Closes September 10th.
The Broadway production of Hair closed September 10, 2011. For current Broadway show listings and tickets, please click here.
This show was mounted in 2008 as an outdoor production in Central Park and then re-mounted for Broadway in 2009, where it ran for 15 months. The 2011 Broadway run features a touring production and cast.
According to press notes, the show is a "celebration of the 1960s and the counter-culture which heralded a lifestyle of peace, love, and understanding as well as sex, drugs and rock and roll. Following a group of hopeful, free-spirited young people who advocate a lifestyle of pacifism and free-love in a society riddled with intolerance and brutality during the Vietnam War, "Hair" depicts the the birth of a cultural movement that changed America forever."
Surprisingly, the material still packs quite a punch, both as social commentary and challenging theater. And with a big, energetic cast, and a score that includes 'Let the Sunshine In,' 'Aquarius,' and 'Good Morning Starshine,' a few goose bump moments are almost a certainty.
Is this a show for you? Well, if you are even a bit prudish (less well-known musical numbers include 'Sodomy' and 'Hashish'), or if you have an aversion to in-your-face audience participation (and in this production, lord only knows what might be in your face), the answer is a probably no. If, on the other hand, you've always wanted to experience the thrill of singing and dancing on a Broadway stage (and you think you might be able to claw your way to the front for the curtain-call lovefest), the answer may be yes.
According to the producers, "while many parents have found this show suitable and engaging for young adults (13 and older), parental discretion is advised. There is a dimly lit 20-second scene with nudity that is non-sexual in nature." On the other hand, a few parents have written to tell us they feel the show is completely inappropriate for anyone under the age of 18. Click to read audience reviews from the 2009 Broadway run.
So the "opening" is really a continuation of the 2009 show, with the major parts taken by new actors who step into their roles with ease and confidence. What's different is around the edges. Director Diane Paulus made the exuberant revival engaging and fun in part by linking the cast to the audience. This time around, particularly at the beginning of the show, the gambit lacks the sense of spontaneity it once did; the audience touring seems a bit tired and ritualized. But that feeling dissipates after a while thanks to the onstage energy and commitment of the cast, as it romps spiritedly through the Gerome Ragni-James Rado-Galt MacDermot score. In a large cast in which nearly every actor has a featured moment, there are no weak spots. Everyone steps up and delivers.
Director Diane Paulus' groovy production is still as fresh as a just-picked daisy. And if you're lucky, a cast member will give you a sweet-smelling blossom - along with a head rub and a beatific smile. The Gerome Ragni–James Rado–Galt MacDermot score, featuring hypnotically catchy songs, is a trip in itself. Pity the buzz is harshed by some overzealous amplification in the second act. Surely there's a way for singers and electric guitars to peacefully coexist. As the Tribe sings in the first few minutes: "Harmony and understanding!"
New York Daily News
The show continues to make for an easygoing evening. And it would be a whole lot more fun if it would just chill and trim some of the hard sell. Satirical one minute, touching the next, then raucous, the musical's message of "peace, flowers, freedom, happiness" remains front and center. Ditto the once edgy (but no longer shocking) nudity, profanity and tunes about about sex and drugs that have since paved the way for other envelope-pushing shows. The performances are a mixed bag. This show's biggest issue is a pervasive amped-up, overzealous tone, whether it's onstage or as the tribe constantly roams the audience.
New York Post
In this case, the production is looking and sounding good, because it's impossible to keep this "Hair" down. The quintessential rock musical casually tosses off hits, barely slowing down for clever, infernally catchy songs that would stop any other show in its tracks. Paulus' dynamic staging is nearly foolproof, and in total sync with Karole Armitage's perpetual-motion choreography. Paulus understood that the essence of "Hair" is the ensemble. But this cast doesn't quite gel into a whole: There are good parts, but they don't always add up. Yet caveats aside, this "Hair" remains one of the most spirited, kinetic musicals on Broadway, and when it hits the bull's-eye - which is often - it hits it hard.
New York Times
The book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado are a kaleidoscopic, encyclopedic celebration of the youth movement and its passions - sexual, political and pharmacological - set to the irresistible pop-rock melodies of Galt MacDermot. I'm happy to report that this national touring company, featuring fresh-faced newcomers alongside performers from the Central Park, Broadway and London versions, has got plenty of life, brother. The hallmarks of Ms. Paulus's production were its pulsating energy and its sincere conviction, and both are on continuous, sense-heightening display at the St. James. It's easy to forgive the careless narrative because there is so much heart, humor and unquenchable good spirit in the songs.