Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hair

When the Moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then Peace will guide the planet,
And Love will steer the Stars.
The music was stupendous. The singing and dancing were beyond great. What a spectacle. It was really, really good. Get the picture?

What I really could have done without was the politics. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Hair (the play, which has a completely different plotline from the 1979 movie), it's a musical that takes place in 1968. It's about a group of young hippies in New York City who basically spend their days living on the streets, having sex, smoking dope, expounding on life and cosmic consciousness and battling authority. The men are drafted and all but one, Claude, burn their draft cards. Claude goes to Vietnam and is killed. And that's it in a nutshell. Hair was powerful in the seventies because the message of Vietnam was fresh and relevant. America bears the scars of Vietnam even today.

So of course, Miss Liberal Shakespeareintheparkofficial comes out on stage before the play begins, and starts talking about how Hair resonates so strongly today because Iraq is Vietnam and how we are still battling a president who is killing our boys and fighting in an unjust war blah blah blah.

No matter what flavor of politics you subscribe to and no matter how you feel about the war in Iraq, here is the deal:

1. Iraq is not Vietnam.
2. We have no draft.

Period. End of story. The only thing Vietnam and Iraq have in common is that in both cases, American forces fought/are fighting revolutionaries. That's it. The situation in Iraq is completely different from the way things were in Vietnam. The start and cause of the conflict, the nature of the enemy, their governments, the strength of their military power, are all so different from Vietnam so as to make meaningful comparisons almost impossible. If you don't agree, then I'll do a whole separate boring history post and you can comment your brains out. Say the word.

But even more important is the fact that our army today is composed entirely of volunteers. If you don't want to fight for your country, you don't have to. No young men being forcefully plucked out of their childhood to shoot guns in a foxhole. No more draft.

So shutup
Miss Liberal Shakespeareintheparkofficial. And leave your politics out of the arts. And let me enjoy this unfreakingbelievably good music and dancing and karma.

On to The Things I Enjoyed the Most and The Things I Really Didn't Like. The latter first.

There is some real nudity in Hair. I know there was some in the original Broadway play, which I didn't see, and I saw the movie when I was really young, so I barely remember it. But in the very beginning of the show, Berger (one of the two main characters) removes his pants and pretty much prances around with nothing around his waist but some tastefully placed beads hanging from a belt. I'm really not a prude and Berger was a hottie, but honestly, I kept thinking throughout the scene, I really wish he would put his pants back on. It's just not necessary. The plotline would have been fine with him wearing pants. But then there is this one part where EVERYONE in the cast removes all their clothes at the end of a musical number. They dim the stage lights and the whole thing lasts 5 seconds, but let me tell you, it's still a little disturbing. Don't forget this is live theater. There is just no reason for them to be doing this. It doesn't even fit in with the plot. It's supposed to be laden with meaning, but I really don't know what. Frankly, it's just weird. And lest you think that this is just WebGirl the repressed Orthodox Yeshiva Girl talking here, my friends, two of whom were not even Jewish, all independently expressed the same thought. I really don't mind nudity in movies and plays, as long as it fits in. And also, geez, did they have to get completely nude? All of them? TMI.

The other thing was the endless humping and mime-humping. Hair, at least this version, is a pure musical...there is almost no talking at all...everything is sung (unlike the movie). So in the background of every single song, the other actors are humping and bumping and grinding. It's all sort of tastefully done and playacted, and I realize they are trying to convey the non-stop-free-love of the Sixties, but really, enough already. I get it, you are all having sex with each other. Ok. Enough with the groping and humping and slithering.

There is one pretty amusing part in the play where the characters all light up joints. Of course, it's not actual marijuana (at least I hope not); they just rolled tobacco into gigantic doobie props. But they do actually light and smoke them. And the one pregnant character in the play, Jeannie, makes a huge show of lighting up as well, delivering this zinger: "Like Mary Magdalena once said: 'Jesus, I'm getting stoned.'" I kept thinking, gee, if they were portraying lighting up cigarettes instead of joints, there would be all sorts of protests and petitions but because it's pot being portrayed instead of tobacco, it's cool. Not a word.

The Things I Enjoyed the Most? Have I mentioned the music? Yeah. First thing I did when I came home was buy the album from Itunes. It's such great, great stuff. And classic. The Age of Aquarius, Good Morning Starshine, How Can People Be So Heartless, Donna, Hair, and of course, Let the Sunshine In. I love the Sixties, at least the music. Tomorrow I'm going to try to rent the DVD of the movie from the library.

If you've never been to Shakespeare in the Park, let me try to give you a little slice of the atmosphere. The Delacorte Theatre is an open-air arena style theater. There is not a bad seat in the house. It was a breezy and beautiful night, and the sound system was stupendous. And at the very end of the show, which closes with Let the Sunshine In, the actors invite the audience to get up on stage and dance with them, which pretty much everyone in the front does. It's incredible. Wild. I didn't go up to dance, but I still felt swept away by the music. I saw these real former hippies (now in their fifties and sixties) wearing tie-dyed stuff and flower dresses shaking their moneymakers with the cast and everyone was really concentrating on not concentrating and getting into the fun. And people start to lose themselves in the music and dancing. Which is ultimately what the play is also about: letting go of everything enough to lose yourself to some very, very good music. I love that sort of stuff. We all need to let go of ourselves every now and then.

It was a great evening. If you're in NY, it's still going to be around for another two weeks, so try to see it. If you can't wait in line in Central Park for tickets, try waiting on their Virtual Line for tickets. Very worthwhile. I might even go again. Leave the kids at home though. Just in case you dread waiting in line, let me reassure you that it's really not so bad. If you go with a friend on a Sunday and bring sandwiches and Ipods and a deck of cards, you will have fun.

For you trivia buffs, I went to IMDB to look up the 1979 movie, and guess who played Berger and Claude? The very gorgeous Treat Williams and John Savage, respectively. I only vaguely remember the film, but I definitely didn't realize who the actors were. Here's a little thirty year old montage Treat treat for ya.

And while we're utubing, here's the opening from the movie. This is so good.

Have I mentioned the music? Yeah, it's really, really good.
Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind's true liberation...

3 comments:

Isophorone said...

A bit OT, but I found this button on E-bay.

Alan Abramowitz said...

I waited the on the Delacorte Theatre line three times to see HAIR this summer. Arriving on August 13 at 9AM I waited to 1:30PM but was told all tickets were SOLD OUT! I tried again August 27. Getting online at 7AM got me in!!!!! Optimistic I tried AGAIN on September 12Th Arriving at 7AM I did get good seats for that nights performance. BUT THEN IT WAS RAINED OUT! The cast did a whimpy rendition of Aquarius on the other side of the theatre and then split. Needless to say it was depressing as the whole day was shot!!!!!!!

WebGirl said...

That totally sucks, Alan. Sorry.