It's been 42 years since Hair, "The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical" opened on Broadway.
At that time we were engaged in a disastrous war — and people protested that war with a passion. It was a time when, despite the horrors of a bad war, people still believed they could make a difference, they cared about raising their voice in protest.
Sadly, I don’t think we do that any more, so caught up are we in the affairs of Tiger Woods or whether Kate will leave Jon and who will be the next American Idol. All of which may make Hair an historical piece, rather than something which is fresh and vibrant. There is no more draft into the military, so nobody has a draft card to burn and there is more concern over people who can’t get into the service than how to get out of it.
Nonetheless, the students of UC Davis' "Studio 301," some of whom may have had grandparents who were their age in the 1960s, put on a credible production of Hair last night.
The cast mingled with the patrons before the show started, and while you could guess many of the cast members, so many patrons showed up in hippie garb, you weren't completely certain until the show actually started.
There was even a flower child bus on stage (which became part of the set during the show), reminiscent of The Partridge Family. If you read the program, you could see that the bus was actually for sale, following the run of the show.
As the show progressed, the air got colder and colder. I was freezing by the end of the first act, even though I had a jacket and we were sharing a blanket. When I mentioned the cold to someone in charge, she found us a blanket that was the heaviness of a rug and helped get us through the second act more comfortably. (Thank goodness a promised brief rain squall seemed to pass us by).
I don't know how the actors made it through two acts, though. Most of them were scantily clad, though I suppose all the dancing helped. And yes, these was a nude scene, which had such shock value back in the 60s and which is just ho-hum now. They did it briefly and tastefully and not everyone was nude. The last time I reviewed this show, not only did the entire cast disrobe, but a couple of people never put their clothes back on again and remained nude through the entire second act.We were living in Berkeley when Hair premiered and I remember the feeling of hope and possibility. Seeing this production makes me realize that I’ve lost that feeling, and I came away from the show wondering if we will ever again see the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, when peace will guide the planet.