Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Most Memorable Theatre Experiences: #4 HAIR

For five weeks straight in the summer of 2009 I played the ticket lottery for the Broadway revival of Hair almost everyday. It seemed that I would never win the ticket lottery, oddly enough I rarely lose Broadway ticket lotteries, so I heard about the standing room tickets and decided to go that route. Now I would never recommend standing for a Broadway show because I feel that it takes you out of the performance but for this show, it does the exact opposite. Because the cast members, or the tribe, frequently enter the audience and perform in the aisles, I felt like I was truly part of the performance. As I stood behind the last row of the orchestra, Alison Case (Crissy) gave me a flower and an invitation to a "be-in," Will Swenson (Berger) dove over me to get to the last row of the orchestra, and Darius Nichols (Hud) picked me up and carried me around when he made his Act II entrance.

I really didn't know what to expect when I saw the show for the first time, even though I had heard nothing but positive reactions and I really enjoyed the TONY awards performance. Because Hair is more of a concept musical than a traditional plot-driven show, I must admit that I had a bit of trouble following the story the first time I saw the show and it did not strike me the way I expected it would as I could not find a way to relate to the 1960s characters. Nevertheless I had a great time and loved the energy of the performance, especially when I got to go onstage during the finale dance party.

In the days following the performance, I could not get Hair out of my head and could not stop listening to the soundtrack. Then it hit me that Hair was not just about the 1960s, but rather it was about the power that young people can have when they are united as one. I have never really considered myself an activist but the message of this show, "Letting the Sun Shine In" seemed to relate so closely to many of the issues facing our nation today and I felt so compelled to do something with the passion I felt for this show.

The second time I saw the show on Broadway I was completely invested in everything the cast was doing and the composers were trying to say and I really "got it". When Gavin Creel, Hair's original Claude, began to promote the national march for equality in Washington DC within the Broadway community, I knew I had to be there. Going to the march on the national mall on October 11th, 2009 with all of my theatre friends was one of the most elating experiences of my entire life and it was on that day that I learned what it really meant to "Let the Sun Shine In".

During this time I was also working on my own creative project as a tribute to the youth movement portrayed so artfully in Hair. I was inspired to choreograph Levitating The Pentagon based on my research of the youth culture of the 1960s. While my piece was not meant to be a direct representation of what I saw and felt from Hair, I wanted to capture the show's community and self-empowerment themes in a different medium: postmodern dance.

I saw the Broadway production of Hair for a third time in May of this year with a new cast that was so much different than the original tribe while still maintaining the youthful energy and feeling of community. I was so happy to be back in the Al Hirschfeld theatre where I had been so inspired six months earlier, not only to create my own art, but to join a social movement. Seeing Hair with two friends who were new to the show was a particularly special experience as I again realized how magical this piece of art really is.

The Broadway production played its final performance on Sunday June 27th, 2010. While I, along with thousands of others, was so sad to see it go, I know that as this production embarks on its national tour it will continue to inspire new generations of starshines to become the change they want to see in their own world, whether that is in regard to politics, the environment, equality, or any other issue that they feel passion for. It began in Washington, DC on October 26th, 2011 and continues to spread love to all who are willing to receive it.

When the original production of Hair premiered on Broadway in April of 1968, it was revolutionary and when this revival opened in March of 2009, it compelled an entirely new generation of hippies to stand up for their beliefs the same way that their grandparents did in the 1960s. So I would like to thank James Rado, Gerome Ragni, and Galt MacDermot for having the courage to write a musical that challenged the status quo and Joe Papp and the Public Theatre for believing that theatre could inspire social change. You have taught us all that our differences make us beautiful and that we all possess, within ourselves, the power to change the world around us.

No comments:

Post a Comment