Hair the first Rock Musical opened in 1967 for six weeks at the New York Shakespeare Festival Theatre and moved to the Biltmore Theatre on Broadway the following year where it was a hit. The book and lyrics were written by Gerome Ragni and James Rado (both actors in the play) while the music was composed by Galt MacDermot.
Initially, the show took reviewers and audiences by surprise with its anti-war plot, nudity, mixed-race relationships, and homosexuality. Over time reactions changed and the musical became popular worldwide and was translated into many languages before disappearing.
In 2010, the play received a Tony for the best revival of a musical which once again brought the work to the forefront and may have induced Michael J. Bobbitt, the current artistic director of Boston’s New Repertory, to choose it. Opening night at the New Rep the audience was filled with excited middle-aged and elderly people, many of whom were dressed as hippies.
The company for Hair is very talented and well trained. Of the twelve actors, six studied at the Boston Conservatory. All sing well. The show is competently directed and choreographed by Rachel Bertone who also graduated from the Boston Conservatory. Their youth adds to their believability. As is normally the case, the actors are both black and white, which adds to the play’s conflict although the characters are on good terms most of the time.
Janie E. Howland’s simple set works well. The cast appears to be in a park most of the time. Upstage is a large gate that seems to keep them locked into their world. The colorful set makes use of blue, red, green, and yellow and gives the impression that the characters are high on drugs.
While the work remains interesting and enjoyable, certain aspects of it are outdated. For example, the women are always followers never leaders in the group.
This review was previously published at http://capitalcriticscircle.com/ on February 9, 2020.
This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.