Thursday, December 4, 2008

More Beautiful Hair - By Jack Melichar

HAIR comes to Tucson! Boys and girls, I don't mean going to my friend Scotty's salon and watch him cut and snip. I"m talking about the American Tribal Love Rock Musical that made its Broadway debut on April 29, 1968, and is being produced in Tucson by The Arizona Theatre Company.

In order for this musical to make any sense, it is necessary to recall what was happening in the 60's. A president had been assassinated, as had his brother RFK, and the civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. A very unpopular war was being waged in Viet Nam, there were riots in the streets and on college campuses, and veterans of the war were protesting in Washington: "Hey, Hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" or "1,2,3,4, we don't want your F***ing war!" It was an era when "Make love not war," became the slogan for a new generation of Americans. "Flower power" became a new watchword. There were so many recreational drugs available that one didn't know where to start (and, unfortunately) many didn't no when to stop. The counter culture was here big time.

Born of this mess, was HAIR. It was a startling musical that set not only Broadway and New York, but, indeed the entire nation on its ear. Whoever would have thought that staid Broadway would be the setting for a musical that featured rock music – real rock, not the Tin Pan Alley - spoof kind? And to add insult to injury to the blue hairs, it had nudity, albeit brief and dimly lit, but nudity nonetheless. Who could resist such temptation? While the musical did not produce the immediate revolution in Broadway music that the critics had predicted, it did run nearly 2,000 performances, and was the beginning of a transformation in the musical styles of the Broadway score.

I would like to add a little aside here. I was living in New York when Hair hit, and I learned that, in addition to the regular fee paid the actors, they were given $150 per performance to shed their accouterments. I was interested, nay thrilled, to imagine making $150 for taking off my clothes – something I tend to do every night. So I auditioned. I was deeply insulted when I was offered $250 – to keep my clothes ON! My pride had been sorely injured and I turned the part down. Now, if you believe that tale, I have a wonderful bridge I want to sell you – cheap. You can put a toll on it and make lots of money. Give me a call.

There, children, that's your history lesson for the week. I am certain had I announced it to be a history lesson, you wouldn't have read the article. GOTCHA! Hair opens December 5 and runs through December 20 at the Temple of Music and Art, 343 S Scott. For ticket information, call 622-2823 or go online to ARIZONATHEATRE.ORG. Next week, I will have a review – good lord willin' and the creek don't rise.

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