Not living far from New York City, to celebrate my birthday, my parents announced we would take the train in and they would treat me to day of shopping, a matinee and dinner with close friends in the Big Apple.
Being avid travelers, my parents always amaze me with their savvy and worldly knowledge.
STEP DAD: “You know…I think they have a bathroom on these trains.”
MOM: “We sit backwards?”
After enduring a non-express Metro-North Line train ride into Grand Central, we then endured yet another non-express line – the ticket line in Times Square.
For those of you who know – and for those of you who don’t know – there is a TKTS ticket booth in Times Square where would-be show-goers can purchase matinee (and some night shows) at a discounted price. Since it was my birthday, my parents advised me to pick the show of my choice – they also advised me they wanted to see a musical.
As the line dwindled and we neared the ticket window, so did our show options — we were down to Shrek, Mary Poppins and HAIR. Shrek – a singing, flatulent ogre…um, no thanks; Mary Poppins – been there, done that; so, that left….HAIR. I faintly remember listening to my parents’ HAIR album (yes, 33LP record) growing up and knew the premise… how bad could HAIR be?
Sex, drugs and nakedness. Yup. Did I mention I was with my parents? Even as a full-grown adult, one never outgrows AWKWARD.
I understand this play was a radical social commentary of the late 1960s, I get it. I understand the naked protest is just that – a protest. I get it. The cast was uber-talented. I am not debating that. I know this particular revival won the 2009 Tony Award for the Best Revival on Broadway that very week. I am not debating that either.
What I am saying is, by intermission, I was ready to throw the Kumbaya towel in. I am just not a flower child, thus, the 33 songs which comprise HAIR – and trust me, all 33 were performed – put me over the mother-loving, hallucinogenic, orgy edge. I am a child of the 1970s, by then, the hippies were fading and The Partridge Family was taking over the sit-ins. Donnie and Marie were stars – clean cut and as white bread as you can get. No LSD for them.
The only thing close to HAIR when I was a teenager were – the glam rocker bands – POISON (who, incidentally, where at the Tony Awards that year as well, you know, when douchebag lead singer, Brett Michaels had a run in with the stage – in case you missed it —
Bon Jovi, Cinderella, Stryper, etc. The hair was there, but the radical social commentary for these guys was showing off how many groupies they could fit backstage and they were burning hotel rooms down, not draft cards.
At curtain’s close, my mother felt the same as she did close to forty years ago when seeing HAIR in London, “It’s still as radical now as it was back then;” my step father agreed and remembered seeing the play in New York shortly after its debut – and still likes the nudity *wink*, and I…I was glad to leave (sorry, HAIR) – with a new appreciation for the play, actors and, of course, our freedom.
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HAIR: The Musical
2009 Tony Award Winner for Best Musical Revival
I saw HAIR at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 West 45th Street, New York, NY 10036