By Melissa Rose Bernardo
Updated March 31, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT
Joan Marcus
  • Stage

There’s only one way to fully experience this radiant revival of Hair, and that’s from the stage of Broadway?s Hirschfeld Theatre, grooving beside about 200 fellow hippie wannabes to the buoyant strains of the closing number, ”Let the Sun Shine In.”

By the time the Tribe invites you to its post?curtain-call dance party, you’ll be pretty comfortable with the touchy-feely flower children. Many orchestra-section ticket-holders have already received daisies, be-in invitations, or hugs. Actually, you never know when bare-chested Berger (Will Swenson) might rub your head — thanks, by the way — or when Claude (Gavin Creel, exuding the requisite ”million-dollar charm”) will climb over you mid-song.

Without those terrific little pop tarts (as they’re dubbed by a tourist character in the show), Hair would be little more than a trippy rock concert. It lacks a strong story line: Claude gets drafted, Claude goes to Vietnam, let the sun shine in. The sheer diversity of Galt MacDermot’s music — folk, pop, R&B, acid rock — can be jarring, groundbreaking as it was in 1967. And the protracted Act 2 hallucination — featuring Abe Lincoln, Aretha Franklin, and a trio of homicidal nuns — will harsh anyone’s buzz. Yet the antiwar message still resonates all too well, as do Gerome Ragni and James Rado’s lyrics, Timothy Leary references notwithstanding. (Pity that so much is overamplified, because you want to hear the irreverent words of ”Sodomy” and ”Black Boys.”)

Even after the downer ending, this Hair will leave you on a serious high. Try to stay there as long as possible — which means dragging yourself on stage for at least two refrains of ”Let the Sun Shine In.” (Tickets: 800-432-7250) A?


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  • Diane Paulus