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.