Hair: A Requiem for the Ephemeral in Life
In The New York Times, Ben Brantley has written a very thoughtful review of the re-staging of the 1960s musical Hair by New York’s Public Theater. It’s exuberant production of Hair officially opened Thursday night, but middle-aged audience members who revisit this 1967 landmark theatrical work in search of the aimless flower children they once were are likely to uncover more than they bargained for.
The lively teenage rebels of Hair may be running headlong after a long good time. But in this production it’s clear that they’re also running away, and not just from what they see as the bleak futures of their parents lives and the outrages of the war in Vietnam. The hippies of this production of Hair are also struggling against the dawning of a sense that no party can last forever, and that they have no place to go once it’s over.
Seen 40 years after it first stormed the middle-class citadel of musical comedy, Hair registers as an eloquent requiem not only for the idealism of one generation but also for the evanescence of youth itself. It’s still the “tribal love-rock” celebration it was always advertised as being. But in suggesting that the dawning age of Aquarius is already destined for nightfall, this new production establishes the show as more than a vivacious period piece. Hair, it seems, has deeper roots than anyone remembered.
For Brantly, as the summer twilight shaded into full night at at the open-air Delacorte Theater, the exhilaration of The Public Theater’s Hair was tempered by an exquisitely sad taste of the ephemeral in life. This revelatory production’s anthem turns out not to be its title song, although it was performed with marvelous gusto, but the haunting ballad sung shortly thereafter. Its title: “Where Do I Go?“
Hair: The Age of Aquarious
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