Saturday, March 6, 2010

One Last Love-In with the Original Cast of HAIR



There are sad goodbyes and there are thrilling, love-filled send-offs. Going into the Al Hirschfeld theatre on Friday night, to see HAIR for the fifth time on Broadway, I wasn’t sure which to expect; after all, now that this beloved cast is heading over to London, I knew that it was the last time I’d see them together in this magical way.

Every season, I seem to find one show that surpasses all the others as my go-to, the one with which I emotionally resonate the most. In 2007 it was Spring Awakening; in 2008 it was Passing Strange, and then [title of show]. Each of these has managed to tap into some part of me deep inside that needs to be expressed – yet I don’t even realize it until I hear and see familiar truths being manifested on a stage.

It didn’t take long, in 2009, to identify with The Public Theatre’s production of HAIR. No, I didn’t see it in Central Park – a fact which digs at me constantly, thank you very much (though I did sit in line for 8 hours in the rain one day only to be turned away). Even after the show opened at the Hirschfeld, actually, I waited several months to see it so I could go for the first time with my parents – Dad is a big fan of musicals and my mom had identified bigtime with the Original Cast Recording in 1968. But once that curtain went up on my first visit… let’s just say there was no going back. This show, resurrected from a bygone era, speaks straight to the part of me that wants to sing itself. I see myself, my friends, my struggles and frustrations and longings, up there on that stage. And with the literal and emotional lack of a fourth wall (this cast connects with the audience, y’all!), it is easy to lose myself in the Tribe’s message of peace, freedom, and love.

Last night’s performance was no less energetic, fervent, or full of life than the show the first time I saw it (or on any of my subsequent visits, for that matter). These actors, a year into their Tony-winning run, are still delivering with vigor and enthusiasm that matches their early performances. And – perhaps in part because of their off-stage dedication to the passions and causes embodied in the musical – it’s easy (as an audience member) to feel like some important exchange is taking place, that this production is more than just their job.

Even without a coveted aisle-seat, I had interaction with the cast in the form of a daisy passed down the row and a “be-in” flier I caught when it was tossed from the stage. (Both are already encased in plastic with my playbill, beloved souvenirs.) I cheered for Margaret Meade and ached for Chrissy; I giggled girlishly at Berger and cried for Claude Bukowski. And my heart swelled, from the time I took my seat to the moment I bounded out of it to join the cast onstage, singing for freedom and love with my own voice.

I can’t mourn; I can only celebrate. Those tears that were pouring out of my face as I stood on stage and sang were tears of gratitude.

I am changed as a result of this show. I am delighted that the cast, as a family, will continue to affect lives together. And now that I have rejoiced with this original Tribe one last time, I am excited to welcome in a brand new family of hippies with whom to gloriously dance.

8 comments:

  1. Such an Awesome & Heartfelt Blog, Thanks for sharing. I am sure plenty feel the same way, I for one sure do. Going to miss this cast and what they bring to the show, I hope the new cast can do the same.

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  2. I really am touched by this post! I've never seen this production of HAIR on Broadway and I deeply regret it, but I hopefully will in London...love your blog! Keep on blogging!

    Love, Julia

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  3. this is an incredibly beautiful and heartfelt post and i can totally relate to everything you mentioned. this tribe will be so missed but i know for sure that the show will continue work its wonders.

    thanks for posting!

    allie

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  4. i was there too! i lost lotto but beautiful TKTS came to the rescue. that was a great blog, thank you! you put into words just what i was feeling.

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  5. Great post...it brought back all those feelings from when I said my goodbyes a couple weeks ago. It was a beautiful show! I am sad as well, but so grateful I had the chance to be a part of such a wonderful production as a dancing audience member! I guess we cannot be selfish. It's time for this crew to go spread love to the people of London. And hey, what a great reason for a vacation!

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  6. I was also there Friday... I first saw the show in January as a gift for my sister, she had been dying to see it and I was interested but not in any rush to get there. But from the moment I first heard the opening chords of "Aquarius" something in me changed, I can't tell you what it is, but I've changed. I have since seen the show 4 times, since January, and Friday was a spur of the moment thing. Just today my family was asking me what it is about this show and I couldn't answer them but tonight I'm printing a copy of your post and next time they ask I'm showing it to them.

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  7. I'm going to tomorrow's matinee to get one last dose before this cast goes to London. I saw it in 1969, the 3-night concert in Central Park in 2007, the Public Production during 2008's Shakespeare in the Park season, and more times since it opened on Broadway than is normal. This play reconnects me with me. Forever grateful to Will, Gavin, Kacie, Cassie, Allison, Andrew, Anthony, Theo (now in American Idiot), Nicole, Darius, Megan, Bryce, Paris (who I never tire of looking at!), Maya, Saycon (now in Fela)..all brought together by the brilliant Diane Paulus...to reminding me of who I am. Oh, and Steve Bargonetti who kicks a** on the guitar every single night during the performance and during the dance party!

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  8. ..posted the link to this post on my blog, because I really want people to read this amazing review! Hope that's okay...:)

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