Through August 11|
HAIR MusicalFare Theatre
By Augustine Warner
As the crowd filed out from the performance of “Hair” that I attended, it was quiet, seldom true of a post-musical audience.
Perhaps that reflected something rare in the theater, an audience which knew and understood the show better than the cast did.
This production has a cast so young I noticed at least one not out of high school and I'm not sure any talked to their grandparents about the times in which the show is set.
The performers almost certainly don't understand the daily tension of the possibility of receiving those letters which began: “Greetings,” inviting the recipient to spend some time in a warm, wet place in Southeast Asia where people were shooting at them and some returned in a box.
The show opened in the fall of1967 and I know from my college graduation earlier that year we discussed the possibility there would be buses for us to head off to boot camp, besides classmates already in uniform through ROTC and recollections of one classmate already dead in Vietnam.
In those days, young men of all social classes went off to war because of the draft.
At the core of “Hair” is the concern of Claude (Patrick Cameron) that he will have to give up his “hippy” lifestyle with “the tribe” and report for induction or, perhaps head to Canada or Mexico and dodge the draft although that would shape the rest of your life.
Some simply refused and went to prison.
Claude and Berger (Anthony Alcocer) are competing for the sexual affections of Sheila (Olivia Gjurich) and Berger doesn't want Claude to report for induction.
The tribe members are young people who have all the time in the world, to smoke dope, to sing and seek sexual opportunities with others.
Jeanie (Cassie Gorniewicz) and her expanding waistline show there are risks.
They are supposed to be doing all of this in Manhattan, probably to show people in other places the depravity and opportunities of the Empire City.
And, in a time when the nation's racial situation wasn't good, the tribe is mixed racially, offering paired songs “Black Boys” and “White Boys.”
Director Chris Kelly has tried to make the wartime context a little more clear by opening the show with a patrol in the “boonies” somewhere and the ever-present sound of helicopters and closing the performance with Claude dead in uniform and one of those triangular folded flags on his body.
There are songs in the show which are emblematic of the times, “Easy to be Hard,” “Aquarius” and “Good Morning Starshine.”
There are also songs which reflected the wrenching social change underway in the country at the time, “Colored Spade,” “Sodomy” and “Hashish.”
The performance was a little uneven, with a number of songs when the mikes didn't seem to be ready when a performer stepped into a song, like Sheila with “Easy to be Hard” and some other cases.
There was some real energy from the cast, paired with fine choreography from Bobby Cooke which is very athletic and acrobatic, using a very simple set from Chris Schenk.
If you have seen the show before or seen the movie, some songs will seem new and others you remember won't be heard because this was a show which for years changed and morphed, on stage and screen.
There are numbers you will remember, the cast with the opening “Aquarius,” Jordan Levin with “Sodomy,” Dudney Joseph Jr. with “Colored Spade,” Gjurich with “Good Morning Starshine” and the cast with “Let the Sunshine In.”
By the way, no nudity this time.
Once upon a time there was in Toronto and a lot of other places a lot of nudity on stage, both by the cast and audience members who came up on stage, one of whom was said to be a royal princess on a tour to Toronto.
See “Hair” and think about young people being sent long distances to fight wars we may or may not understand and coming home in a box.
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