Newly revised production of Hair opens in Chicago to rave reviews

jon5202
Featured Actor
joined:12/14/10
The American Theatre Company in Chicago is staging a new revision of the musical Hair with the assistance of James Rado, one of the original creators. This Off-Loop production in a small North Side Chicago theatre has the critics buzzing.

Starting with Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune, read the following reviews:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/ct-hair-review-chicago,0,913386.column?track=rss

http://www.theatreinchicago.com/hair/reviews/6959/



Updated On: 5/8/14 at 01:17 AM
bwayphreak234
Broadway Legend
joined:7/4/10
This sounds like a really cool production.
"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
PlayItAgain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/8/11
im guessing were still too close to the last revival for this to possible come somewhere off-broadway?
jon5202
Featured Actor
joined:12/14/10
Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
That cast genuinely looks like a bunch of hippies- something the revival was astoundingly unable to accomplish.
Owen22
Broadway Legend
joined:2/24/11
I would guess I would not like it as much, as I always have an opposite opinion of Jones's. The greatest production of "Rent" I have ever seen, and ever hope to see, was at the same American Theatre Company, directed by David Cromer. He didn't like a lot of the staging and (as he does in this review) dissed some of the singing. The difference is, it seemed to spoil the show for him that time (and the singing was great, just not up to the original's voices).
GilmoreGirlO2
Broadway Star
joined:4/13/05
(and the singing was great, just not up to the original's voices).

When I saw ATC/About Face’s “Rent,” the singing was extremely lacking. Many of the actors were clearly cast in vocal roles that didn’t fit their voices and the night I saw it there were multiple cracks and actors off-pitch (I attribute the off-pitch mishaps because of where the band was – I remember I was having a hard time hearing the band myself in the audience). I wasn’t a fan of the whole production, anyway, as I also thought it came off with an air of pretentiousness and I felt like you could see that the actors were aware of how “cool, different, and raw” their production was as they were performing.

Interested in seeing “Hair,” though. While I have always enjoyed the show and the score, I’ve never felt I’ve been able to fully connect with it. Interested to see if this production/version of the script with resonate with me more.
g.d.e.l.g.i.
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/12
A la The Original GREASE, this is a restoration of the Off-Broadway script, which by and large has not been performed since 1967, and which our own "Michael Bennett" (quotes to distinguish our own MB from the actual director) described as a far more moving play with music rather than the plotless revue that opened on Broadway. (This, of course, makes "newly revised" a bit of a misnomer, unless they're instead using the script that Rado sent out for the 2014 tour that no one has heard jack about and is closing in three days.) Should be interesting for history's sake.
Formerly gvendo2005
Broadway Legend
joined: 5/1/05

Blocked: After Eight, suestorm, FindingNamo, david_fick, emlodik, lovebwy
Updated On: 5/8/14 at 11:48 AM
darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
Yeah, that was my question- are they doing just the original script, i.e. the published one, or some new adaptation drawing on elements from it?
GilmoreGirlO2
Broadway Star
joined:4/13/05
I got the impression that they went back to the original Off-Broadway script as a basis, but then also made more changes/additions on top of that. I could be wrong, though.
g.d.e.l.g.i.
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/12
Let's be clear that the published one is not the Off-Broadway script either. It's the closest thing the general public has, but it's not the Off-Broadway script. It's a post-Cheetah, pre-Broadway hybrid of some Broadway stuff, some Off-Broadway stuff, and some stuff that never got tried either place.
Formerly gvendo2005
Broadway Legend
joined: 5/1/05

Blocked: After Eight, suestorm, FindingNamo, david_fick, emlodik, lovebwy
JoeKv99
Broadway Legend
joined:12/27/04
Hair has been "revised" more than any musical- even more than Cabaret. And each creative involve in the "original" productions has their idea of how it was and how it should have been. This production sure looks interesting.

And the singing in Rent was NOT good. It was as if they cast actors without ever hearing them sing. Some couldn't sing the songs assigned, some couldn't sing, period.
No good can possibly come from using this vast wasteland of error and deliberate deceit. You should get off of it and warn others away. You should make sure your children and grandchildren know what a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution it truly is.
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
Yeah it's definitely based on the off-Broadway but it clearly--at least from reading all those reviews (which are ALL pretty positive)--had Rado making other changes too, some significant, some based on pre-off-Broadway writing, etc. So I don't think you can just say it's the Off-Broadway one. (didn't the same company's Grease do the same? It wasn't just the original regional production.)

This strikes me as much more interesting than that Grease--although I would have been curious to see it. I'd love to see this.

Owen22, did you read any of the other reviews? I do agree-_I read most of Jones' reviews (even though I don't live in Chicago) and the man and his taste/ego drive me crazy, but they might be more convincing.
CurtainPullDowner
Broadway Legend
joined:11/4/04
What's with the wig on the bare chested guy?
I guess it's for the crew cut bit, but huh?
MikeInTheDistrict
Featured Actor
joined:8/27/11
Can I just say, I LOVE the quiet verse "Dionne" sings in this arrangement of "Aquarius." That arrangement is absolutely gorgeous, and captures (and improves upon) the ethereal quality of Galt McDermott's original arrangement on the Off-Broadway recording. I now really want a complete recording of that song in that arrangement.

HAIR is possibly my favorite musical, but I've been disappointed with most productions I've seen in the past decade, precisely because of the reasons Jones cites in that review. I found Paulus' production lacking in creativity and real inner life. It was predictably glossy in the way I had imagined a Broadway revival of this show would amount to, and, as Kad mentioned, the cast looked too physically perfect to represent actual hippies. One thing that bugs me quite a lot, however, is that so many professional productions nowadays base their musical arrangements on the 1979 film. Those arrangements lack the ragged, eclectic quality of the originals, and flatten the musical landscape of HAIR. It's nice to see a production eschews what the musical has become to convey something of the heart of the show (which is still within the officially published/licensed version, as evidenced by a very good, intimate production I saw last month at Keegan Theatre in D.C.).
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
The arrangements work (for me) in the film, though I seem to be one of the few who loves the film and stage versions of Hair equally, but I absolutely agree about them being used on stage.
MikeInTheDistrict
Featured Actor
joined:8/27/11
Oh, I actually agree with you. I like them within the film (especially Ren Woods' rendition of "Aquarius", which no one who has tried since [Lilias White, Sasha Allen, Patina Miller, et al.] has ever managed to equal), but dislike when people use them for the stage version. I also like the film, although perhaps not equally as the stage version. I understand why they made the changes they did because the stage version is essentially unfilmable.
FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
Funny, the original script and Rado and Ragni's original pronunciations. "Hayuh… thayuh…" I'm not a big fan of local productions that sound like cast recordings.
'Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.' -- RW Emerson
mpd4165
Stand-by
joined:8/6/09
The re-orchestrations in this production are flat-out stunning. Hearing Aquarius this way just knocked me out and surprised me so much that I was in tears in the first couple of minutes. It's an ensemble that so embodies the time, the characters, the movement, it is incredibly authentic. I really do hope some sort of recording would be possible, but I don't know if that's a realistic option for the company.
MikeInTheDistrict
Featured Actor
joined:8/27/11
^ I'm wondering if this version will be available for other regional companies to perform. The orchestrations/arrangements for HAIR seem to depend largely on the band the theatre happens to get together, but I'm hoping I can see this either Off-Broadway or in one of the regionals here in D.C.
jon5202
Featured Actor
joined:12/14/10
An additional video from American Theatre Company about the production:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_s_z4uLB9B0&list=UUoWsovwZIN89FRgGYR7tvzw

Updated On: 5/10/14 at 09:13 AM
Brick
Broadway Legend
joined:11/21/06
For the arrangements alone I wish this would be available for licensing.
g.d.e.l.g.i.
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/12
In listening to the "Aquarius" clip, the unheard verses are new -- I wanna say 1993-ish, but have been refined over time. They are as follows, since I don't like to post only one sentence:

"As our hearts go beating through the night
We dance into the dawn of day
To be the bearers of the water
Our light will lead the way

We are the spirit of the age of Aquarius
The age of Aquarius
Aquarius
Aquarius

Auras of divine alignment
Evolutionary beings appear
Angelic illumination
Rising fiery constellation
Galloping on starry horses
Guided by the cosmic forces

Oh care for us
Aquarius"

If this was ever in the Off-Broadway script, it's news to me.
Formerly gvendo2005
Broadway Legend
joined: 5/1/05

Blocked: After Eight, suestorm, FindingNamo, david_fick, emlodik, lovebwy
Updated On: 5/10/14 at 08:40 PM
GilmoreGirlO2
Broadway Star
joined:4/13/05
Had the pleasure of seeing this last week and it’s truly a stunning production from every direction; the set, the lights, the staging, the performances, the sound. Extremely well executed. It truly felt like we were in a loft in the East Village with a group of young hippies. It’s obvious how much care and detail went into the production and performances. Everyone was great (I would say Shelia was the weakest link) and, while I am not intimately familiar with all of the different versions of “Hair,” the changes I did note in the arrangements were wonderful. “Dead End” was a particular highlight for me that I would love to get a recording of.

The final moments with the cast and band performing “Let the Sunshine In” were particularly powerful. It grew to an extremely powerful volume, yet without the voices being drowned out by the band, that just elevated the entire theatre; it was a great moment and feeling to end on.

I encourage anyone who can to catch it in its final weeks. I’m not a huge fan of “Hair” (I enjoy the songs and I can appreciate the show for what it is, but I don’t feel as emotionally connected to it as other shows), but this is certainly worth seeing.
g.d.e.l.g.i.
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/12
^ Is there any chance they've started giving out some form of playbill with a song list?
Formerly gvendo2005
Broadway Legend
joined: 5/1/05

Blocked: After Eight, suestorm, FindingNamo, david_fick, emlodik, lovebwy
GilmoreGirlO2
Broadway Star
joined:4/13/05
I gotta check my playbill (which I don’t have with me right now), but I don’t remember seeing a songlist. Feel free ask any questions and I will do my best to remember, though.

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