There are several films and plays that stand up amazingly well over time. ‘Harvey,’ ‘Fargo’ and ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ are three that, like fine wine, seem to stand the test of time. ‘Death of a Salesman’ is another period piece that has aged well. So, too is ‘On the Waterfront.’
But, ‘Hair’ doesn’t stand up. It fact, if one were to badly muck up metaphors, it’s completely bald from an entertainment and relevance standpoint.
In the interests of full transparency, I must say that I was too young to have been aware of the nanosecond in time that Hair purports to capture (circa 1967-’68, when the Vietnam War was at its height and draft dodgers were either fleeing to Canada or burning their draft cards). But, it really doesn’t matter. The song lyrics are indecipherable, the ‘plot’ incomprehensible and the end result as blah as a New Year’s morning’s hangover.
I’m all for revivals and I’m always game for a Eugene O’Neill or Rodgers & Hammerstein production. But, whoever decided that now was the time to cash in on aging baby boomers and their love of the Age of Aquarius must have been ingesting some of the LSD the cast members keep referring to. My advice is to avoid this play like Camus’ ‘Plague.’ And, if you should have a ticket to see Hair, burn it. Or, at the very least, take a day-trip to Montreal instead.
The image of a nude Michael D cavorting as a cast member of ‘Hair’ is more than a little disturbing. Re: the show’s music and lyrics, most were mundane, if not, unintelligible. Yes, there are the one or two signature songs, but that’s it. All in all, a most forgetable experience. As the headline should have read, ‘No fine wine this.
Did you write this knowing that I was in the cast of “Hair” in college? No matter. Yes, the premise is dated. And the storyline is thin and a little silly. But one measure of “standing the test of time” for stage musicals – unlike plays or films – is the music and the songs. Can you hum the tunes 20 years later? I can do that for Phantom (another dated show with a silly storyline). I can do that for Cats (even more dated and silly). I can’t do that for Hammerstein’s Showboat (Old Man River created the “one hit wonder” mold). And yes, I can do that for Hair – I listened to that record when I was a kid until it wore out, and there are millions like me who did the same. Sometimes it’s better to sustain disbelief and appreciate the music and lyrics, which if not classical, are certainly joyous. You have to do that…if people didn’t, the Broadway musical industry would surely go out of business.