The 40th ANNIVERSARY of the world premiere of HAIR at the Public Theater in 1967 was celebrated at the Delacorte Open-Air Ampitheater in Central Park Saturday, Sunday & Monday, September 22, 23 & 24. Three full-to-capacity performances of the show, directed by Diane Paulus, choreographed by Karole Armitage, with Galt MacDermot himself at the keyboard of a 12-piece band, music direction by Rob Fisher (of Encores fame). And I helped.
Claude was played by Jonathan Groff (of Spring Awakening), Berger was Will Swenson, Sheila was Karen Olivo (of In The Heights), Jeanie was Kacie Sheik, Woof was Bryce Ryness,
Hud was Darius Nichols, Dionne was Patina Miller, Crissy was Allison Case. The wonderfully gifted TRIBE included Ato Blankson-Wood, Steel Burkhardt, Lauren Elder, Allison Guinn, Anthony Hollock, Kaitlin Kiyan, Andrew Kober (Margaret Mead & Dad), Megan Lawrence (Mom & Guru Buddadalirama), Nicole Lewis, John M. Moauro, Brandon Pearson, Alisan Porter, Megan Reinking, Paris Remillard, Saycon Sengbloh, Maya Sharpe, Theo Stockman & Tommar Wilson, all top-flight singers & actors. The show was sensational on every level and the audiences of 1,800 people each night seemed to be most enthusiastic. Original Cast Members were guests and appeared on stage at the end of each performance.
Oskar Eustis, the Artistic Director wrote: "It's hard to believe that it's been forty years since HAIR opened at The Public. That premiere marked so many things: the opening of the Public Theater, the first rock musical, and the most famous on-stage nudity in American history -- to name just a few.
But its most single and important contribution was to put the voice of a generation, in all its beauty and rage and confusion, into an unforgettable theatrical form.
The Tribe members in HAIR are as narcissistic as they are generous, as self-involved as they are idealistic. They are faced with one enormnous challenge: saving Claude from going to Vietnam.
They fail utterly. But in their very failure, they paint the possibility of a world where they could have succeeded. HAIR is a tragedy that leaves us with joy, because it has awakened hope.
Claude, the self-questioning, Hamlet-like shape-shifter from Flushing who pretends to be British, is the icon of every radical who lacks the self-certainty and power to defend himself. Berger, the joyous, sexy rebel who befriends him, reminds us of how often charisma has been linked with fatal grandiosity on the left. The entire Tribe, convinced of the possibility of a better world but unable to articulate how to bring it into being, is left with only the rejection of this world as a credo: a necessary but insufficient protest. In 2007, how close they seem to us still." Oskar Eustis
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