Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical
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HAIR, featuring book and lyrics by the late Gerome Ragni and James Rado and music by Galt MacDermot, opened to rave reviews on Broadway March 31, 2009 at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. Under the direction of Diane Paulus, Hair arrives on Broadway after a run as part of the Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park 2008. The cast of the Broadway revival of Hair features Will Swenson as Berger, Tony nominee Gavin Creel as Claude, Sasha Allen as Dionne, Caissie Levy as Sheila, Allison Case as Crissy, Kacie Sheik as Jeanie, Bryce Ryness as Woof, Darius Nichols as Hud, Megan Lawrence as Mother and Andrew Kober as Margaret Mead/Dad. With a score including such enduring musical numbers as "Let the Sun Shine In," "Aquarius," "Hair" and "Good Morning Starshine," Hair depicts the birth of a cultural movement in the `60s and `70s that changed America forever: the musical follows a group of hopeful, free-spirited young people who advocate a lifestyle of pacifism and free-love in a society riddled with intolerance and brutality during the Vietnam War. As they explore sexual identity, challenge racism, experiment with drugs and burn draft cards, the "tribe" in Hair creates an irresistible message of hope, peace and change that continues to resonate with audiences 40 years later.
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The HAIR (THE NEW BROADWAY CAST RECORDING) soundtrack is phenomenal. It mixes the original music arrangements Hair (Deluxe Edition) (1968 Original Broadway Cast and 1967 off Broadway Cast) with some of the arrangements from the movie Hair: Original Soundtrack Recording - Special Anniversary Edition, into a fresh--but still "hair"--sound. It captures the excitement of the play and it's almost as good as being there.
The highly talented cast especially Gavin Creel, Sasha Allen, Caissie Levy, Kacie Sheik and Will Swenson will no doubt bring the soundtrack to a whole new generation of listeners.
I'm sure fans of the original and movie soundtracks of HAIR will enjoy this revival of it. I sure did, and I've got both previous soundtracks, plus the Deutsche Originalaufnahme Haare (Hair) - the German version of the Broadway show which features Donna Summer. Although I still like the movie vocal arrangement of "Black Boys" and "White Boys" with the duet between the male and female voices--and nobody can touch Cheryl Barnes's version of "Easy To Be Hard"--this new cast and revival of the musical is truly enjoyable.
HAIR comes with a small booklet with liner notes by Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director-The Public Theater and Diane Paulus, Hair's Director. Also included are color pictures of the cast and production history notes. I wish they included the lyrics, but no such luck.
The cover art is also a little boring compared to the previous releases and belies the fun and high energy that the soundtrack music conveys to the audience.
Let the sun shine in and get HAIR (THE NEW BROADWAY CAST RECORDING) today! It will put a smile on your face! :)
This version has a much more acoustic sound to it than the version I went to see and also other recordings I've heard (1993 London Cast and Original 1968 Broadway Cast) It has all the right lyrics though and even has the "smaller" songs, like the short "Manchester" reprise in the second act, and things like "Aquarius Goodnights", which were not included in other recordings but are a part of the musical.
The only downsides to this recording are 1. the fact that Will Swenson (the actor who played Berger) has such a nasally voice (I'm not sure if it was done on purpose for the character, or if that's just his natural voice, but he sings very, very nasally) and 2. some of the spoken/story parts are removed from the songs. Like in the middle of "Going Down", when Berger is expelled by the principals, or during "The Flesh Failures/Let The Sunshine In" when Claude says "If I am unseen, I can perform miracles. That's all I want to do on this dirt!" Both of those, and a couple of other lines/mid-song short scenes are removed, which is too bad if you want more of the story, but okay for just listening to the soundtrack.
Overall, I think I would give this particular recording 4.5 out of 5 stars. The musical arrangement is nice. Aside from Berger, I really like all the other cast member's voices. It of course has the story and I really like that it does have the smaller bits.
In the words of the monk, "nice, nice, nicenicenicenicenice. Very nice, very nice."
"Just watch me spark/I glow in the dark!"