photo: Joan Marcus
It's been over forty years since the birth of the cultural phenomenon of Hair but the wonderful outdoors production currently in Central Park doesn't smell like an antique: it very wisely emphasizes the show's immediate thematic current-day relevance. (Here we are again fighting an unpopular war, after all) Judiciously staged like a rag-tag happening rather than like a traditional musical, this production has been directed with a keen understanding of the show as a snapshot of a community: for the first time I understood the "tribal" aspect of this "American tribal Love-rock musical" and embraced rather than bemoaned the lack of a traditional narrative. I saw an early preview, so I won't comment on specific performances except to say that every one has been pointed in the same direction. Thanks to a sudden drenching downpour, the show had to be stopped with only ten minutes remaining. Before long the cast came back out on stage anyway and sang "Let The Sun Shine In" in the soaking rain, pulling people up from the audience to dance on stage with them. It was one of the most vivid and uplifting communal experiences I've ever had seeing theatre.