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"Hair" Returns to Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre
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"Hair" Returns to Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Salon Ziba

200 West 57th Street
New York, NY
Open seven days a week
Ask for Alonso

The Public Theater,
Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel,
Joey Parnes, Executive Producer,
et al.

The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical

At the
Al Hirschfeld Theatre
302 West 45th Street

Book & Lyrics by Gerome Ragni & James Rado
Music by Galt MacDermot
Directed by Diane Paulus
Choreography by Karole Armitage

Sasha Allen, Allison Case, Gavin Creel, Caissie Levy,
Darius Nichols, Bryce Ryness, Kacie Sheik, Will Swenson

And an Ensemble of Dancers/Singers/Actors

Music Director and Conductor: Nadia Digiallonardo
Scenic Design: Scott Pask
Lighting Design: Kevin Adams
Costume Design: Michael McDonald
Sound Design: Acme Sound Partners
Orchestrations: Galt MacDermot
Music Coordinator: Seymour Red Press
Production Stage Manager: Nancy Harrington
Casting: Jonathan Thaler & Heidi Griffiths
Wig Design: Gerard Kelly
Associate Producer: Jenny Gersten
Press: O & M Co.
Marketing: Allied Live, Inc.
Sponsorship: Rose Polidoro

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 17, 2009

The newest incarnation of Hair, with its spiritually uplifting songs, hormonally high Tribe, and socio-political outrage, à la 60’s, is enjoyable as a spectacle, a festival of feverish, youthful energy, colorful, musical, and splendidly seamless. The anti-war, anti-society, anti-older-generation plot brought tonight’s audience right into the mélange of melodious, memorable moments. Who can ever remove “Aquarius” or “Let the Sun Shine In” from their long-play habitation in my mind, no one. Hair is not a show I’d see twice in a season, but, tonight, my guest, a playwright and composer, and I took it all in. And, the action is not contained at the edge of the stage. The aisles serve as runways for the actors to dance, jump, scream, and grab an audience member for kissing and fondling. In fact, a few Tribal members even sat on audience laps and caressed their hair. Hair brings new meaning to “breaking the fourth wall”.

A hip, onstage band, led by Nadia Digiallonardo, with keyboards, guitar, bass, woodwinds, trumpet, trombone, percussion, and drums, is one of the best contemporary bands I’ve heard on Broadway in some time, and the band and eight members of the Tribe led the ensemble through no fewer than 40 songs! The 60’s antiwar plot (the play was first produced in 1967, downtown, by Joseph Papp at the Public Theater) was so refreshing amidst today’s cultural vacuum, where outrage against past government handling of the economy, two wars, and a couple of hurricanes is so silent. My notations reflected an urge for conscience, for collective outrage, probably a worthless wish, with today’s society focused inward. Gavin Creel (Claude) exudes pathos, in the face of “the draft”. Will Swenson (Berger) uses muscular force and improvisation as a credible, uninhibited Hippie. Bryce Ryness (Woof) uses over-the-top personality and hip gyrations to engage the crowd.

Darius Nichols looked like he was having the time of his life, a persuasive and propulsive dancer/singer. Sasha Allen, charismatic and electric, was joined by the remaining Tribal members, Allison Case, Caissie Levy, and Kacie Sheik. These performers possess stamina and strength, athletically and aerobically dancing for over two hours, all the while expressing jubilance and joy. Even in the occasional melodrama, scenes with parents, soldiers, and so on, there’s a sense of togetherness, cohesion, a collective performance of the Company, where no one performer seizes full attention or glory. Diane Paulus’ direction has allowed for personalities to shine, without affecting the momentum. Karole Armitage’s choreography, as well, is far from taut. Rather, there are segments with arms raised in unison, legs kicking and leaping, torsos spinning, but the sense of casual bravado emanates throughout. Scott Pask and Michael McDonald cut no corners on eye-riveting, genre appropriate, sets and costumes, and lighting, sound, and orchestrations were perfected to precision.

Kudos to Gerome Ragni and James Rado for bringing us back to the conscience of the 60’s, and kudos to Galt MacDermott for a multitude of music that lifts the spirit.

Sasha Allen as Dionne
and the cast of "HAIR"
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

Gavin Creel as Claude,
Will Swenson as Berger,
and the cast of "HAIR"
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at