Peace. Love. Freedom. Happiness.

The moon? In the seventh house. The Tribe? Re-united. Yes, the king of all rock musicals is finally back on Broadway, and long live the king!

Director Diane Paulus’s celebrated revival of Hair has made a successful transfer from Central Park’s Delacorte to the Al Hirschfeld, and loads of theater-goers are lining up to take its delirious and poignant trip back in time.

Back in the day, Ragni-Rado-MacDermot brought downtown to Broadway, messing with the conventions of the typical popular musical. Things like full nudity and performers breaking down that fourth wall to interact with the folks in the seats have since become familiar.

But Hair’s songs still have the power to whip our heads around, songs surely beamed down from moon satellites, heartily poured forth until…well, whoops! where did they go? There was a song here, last time I looked, and now it seems to be missing, or maybe it has segued into something hailing from a different crater. These spliced together songlets could be as speedy and wacky and badassedly in-your-face and irresistibly danceable as some of today’s hip hop, or they could be sorrowful, bluesy and druggy or wide-eyed with optimism. Sometimes, downright expert pop stuff emerged from the mix, soaring, bouncing, racing right out of the theater into unforgettable Top 40 hits for other people. Aquarius. Good Morning, Starshine. Easy to Be Hard. Let the Sun Shine In. Much of it gradually lost connection to its first context: an unruly spectacle about hippies resisting every pressure to conform, shedding clothes as as a sign of peaceful, vulnerable un-shielding of the self, and staging mass protests of the Vietnam death trap.

Hair has returned in the New Age of an actual “President of the United States of Love,” but there’s no need to force comparisons between then and now. Americans are considerably less focused on our current war (and more consumed by the economic crisis which is, after all, preventing most of us from maintaining or attaining the kind of lives that hippies dropped out of). Our avenues for expression–of racial and sexual identity, of creativity and spirituality, of political engagement and protest–have been blown wide open by the Internet. Street protests, when they manage to happen, are now organized by text message. The broad diversity of lifestyles and points of view are simply part of the overall societal landscape, no big thing. The sober, grounded and confident Obama is our most accessible president ever and runs a government that’s continually inventing ways to listen to what the people have to say. Let the Sun Shine In!

Hair is still goofy, dizzy fun. Reasons to see it today include its top-notch tribal cast, among whom Will Swenson (the Dionysian Berger), Gavin Creel (ebullient, conflicted Claude), and Caissie Levy (Sheila, the activist with the heavenly voice) stand out. Andrew Kober makes a hilarious Margaret Mead, and Bryce Ryness, a comic, appealing Woof.

Choreographer Karole Armitage gives each Tribe member his or her touch of individuality. And–despite amplification that can sometimes muddy things–hats off to the band!

Tickets at Telecharge.com or 212-239-6200
HAIR hailed on nytimes.com:

Fizzy, Frizzy Welcome to the 60’s
by Ben Brantley, The New York Times, April 1, 2009
http://theater2.nytimes.com/2009/04/01/theater/reviews/01hair.html

A Signature Shuffle Enjoys a New Life
by David Segal, The New York Times, March 30, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/31/theater/31purd.html

Eva Yaa Asantewaa, based in New York City, writes the InfiniteBody dance blog and
hosts the Body and Soul dance podcast both at Infinate Body. She has been a dance journalist since 1976 and has written for The Village Voice, Dance
Magazine, Gay City News and other publications.

She has been a dance journalist since 1976 and has written for The Village Voice, Dance
Magazine
, Gay City News and other publications.

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