Yesterday I saw Hair. Today I am still seeing Hair. I see it, hear it, breathe it. I even remarked to the very confused and possibly alarmed Lenora, "Your napkins remind me of flower children." (In my defense, said napkins were green with purple flowers. I mean, come on.) The show was utterly transcendent. Like nothing I've ever seen before in my life. Sitting in the second row of the Hirschfeld, I experienced an incredible range of emotions - amazement, hope, raucous joy, anxiety, and terror. It was the single most intense afternoon I've ever spent in a theatre. Okay, let's clear this up now: Yes, there is both male and female full-frontal nudity. Yes, John Stamos was there. I care about neither. (Although, the fact that Audra McDonald was there was pretty awesome. But we'll get to that later.) I cannot describe the power of the show. There's a scene toward the end of the first act where all the men burn their draft cards while everyone else pounds on the floor and chants. Gradually, the chants rose to a horrible, hellish, prehistoric-sounding screaming. I felt pinned to my seat. I had no idea what to do. I didn't even know how to process what I was seeing. Out of nowhere, the woman who was sitting behind me started calling out, "STOP! STOP!" and crying. Looking around, I saw that she wasn't the only one screaming. It was then that I noticed I had my own hand clapped over my mouth. I tried to find a Youtube example of what this insanity was like. The closest thing I could find was this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBxPARCbm_I Idina taking Tonya Pinkins' Tony is one of the greatest robberies in history.
I don't think I've ever been so utterly enveloped in a production. Part of this may have been due to the fact that I was sitting in the second row, but I'm not so sure. To give you an idea of just how much this show affected me, let it be known by all that I actually danced at the end. I was one of the hundred or so people who were piled onto the stage at the end to dance during curtain call. I DON'T DANCE. Never. Except for this one time. I just kind of awkwardly stood there until two of the tribe members (and it's a TRIBE, not a chorus, thanks) started twirling me around. It was then that I noticed the ultra-talented Audra McDonald peering out from the wings. Wicked fans take note: THAT is talent. Riding an elevator and screeching like a scorched cat while waving around a broomstick is not.
My new aspiration in life is to see a matinee of Hair over the summer and then go lie in the grass in Bryant Park for the rest of forever. Aiming high here.
But the show is just indescribable. Will Swenson is a revelation. (That probably isn't the best word in this situation, but whatever.) Gavin Creel was great. Special honors must go to Allison Case, Kacie Sheik, and Caissie Levy. Miss Levy accomplished the considerable feat of getting me to like Easy to Be Hard. Her heart-breakingness in the scene where Berger rips the shirt she got him in half really made me hate Berger. Come on, people. The guy's a jerk. Tony for Will Swenson! He exuded a sort of repulsive sexiness that was perfect for Berger. Wow. The fact that I just used the phrase "repulsive sexiness" kinda makes me hate myself. Moving right along.
I haven't seen a cast have this much fun or work so well together since the OBC of Spring Awakening. Throughout the show all I could think was, "It's gonna be insane when they play Bryant Park." In case you don't know, concerts in Bryant Park every Thursday have been the highlight of my summer for two years now. If Hair is scheduled for the week I'm in Disney, I will just be emotionally shattered. If this little infatuation blooms into an obsession of epic proportions, I may just find myself on a plane back to New York. But not really.
Let it never, ever be said that I'm not a Spring Awakening fan. I love it to death, and nothing would make me happier than to see it on Broadway again someday. (Okay, the chance to play Sally Bowles might make me happier.) But it was getting old and tired toward the end. Hair is new and vicious and brilliant. It just grabs you by the throat. When Spring Awakening finally bit the dust, I stomped and cheered and screamed my lungs out. I thought I would never scream like that again. I was wrong. Yesterday afternoon, I found myself twirling around on the stage of the Hirschfeld, giggling and screaming. It was a Rose's Turn moment, give or take a hundred people.
I am now putting in another Tony bid: Diane Paulus for Best Director of a Musical. This show has been seamlessly put together, with only a slight drag during the trip sequence in the second act. Oh, that reminds me. Yes, this show glorifies drug use. The horror. The sheer, unmitigated gall! Everyone knows hippies drank Kool-Aid and munched on Vienna Fingers! Yeah, they smoke pot. So does Michael Phelps. (While we're on the subject, can I just point out how much I love the smell of the fake cigarettes used in the theatre? It's a smell I've come to associate with August: Osage County, since I certainly inhaled enough of it during my time with the Westons. And of course, anything associated with August has a pretty positive connotation in my mind. Except for, ya know, child molestation and drug addiction. Although I have come to appreciate plate smashing.)
The show is made up of so many bizarre, intense, electric moments. I have to say, one of my favorite weird ones was watching Caissie Levy during the trip sequence. She threw herself down on the steps in front of our row and pretended to die, flopping around like a suffocating fish. Shut up. It works if you see it.
Side note: Allison Case is just about the most adorable thing since the whirling dervish. I don't even know what a whirling dervish is. She plays the wounded, disillusioned Crissy, and the cutesiness works very well, without becoming Dainty June-ish or Karen Weston-ish. For the record, I find Karen Weston to be the most annoying character in theatre history. Oh, Lord. Look how long I've rambled for. It's starting already. I'm past the point of no return. The next time you see me I'll be burning a draft card, wearing daisies in my hair, lounging in the grass, and marching around beating a handmade drum. Of course, I may not live long enough for this new obsession to flourish, since the swine flu is clearly going to kill us all. NBC said so. NBC knows everything.
Before I go, may I please point out that this show has the most chilling finale I've ever seen in my life. The Tribe sings Let the Sun Shine in, and eventually the band slowly fades out, until they're a capella. Still singing, they file down the aisles, leaving the stage empty except for Claude's body. Cue slow fadeout. It's wonderfully effective. So if you're considering going to see Hair, GO. You won't regret it. Or at least check out the website. http://www.hairbroadway.com/
And, since I promised berri I would work her into this post, she says hi. You're welcome.