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Hair – Original Broadway Cast Recording 1968

Hair – Original Broadway Cast Recording 1968

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Synopsis

The first thing the audience noticed was the set. There were no stage curtains; everything onstage hung right out. Hair was performed on what’s called a raked stage, a stage set at an angle. It was painted gray, and printed in white on it were such phrases as “Dead End” and “No Smoking.” The set, designed by Robin Wagner, was placed mostly upstage to give us a lot of room to move around. Stage right stood a tower with a fire escape-like contraption; a stairway led to different levels, each of which had various props – an old bicycle horn and other cycling paraphernalia; a papier mâché Santa Claus; a juke box, etc. Hair never really had a starting point, or traditional “opening.” At 8:30, the time printed on the tickets, the cast was dispersed throughout the theater – in balconies, on ramps, climbing the catwalks, in the orchestra, walking on the backs of seats, and even onstage. The idea was to create an immediate rapport with the audience; after all, the atmosphere of Hair was supposed to be Universal Love. Act I All during the warm-up, or vamp, one character, Claude, remains onstage. Dressed in pants, polo shirt, and fur vest, he sits cross-legged, Indian style. If Hair had a protagonist or hero, Claude was it. Next in importance was Berger, Claude’s best friend. The rest of the characters, or tribe, unraveled with the action of the play. As the audience trickles into the theater, the burning grill is ceremoniously set down in front of Claude, and at a musical cue, the cast freezes and then proceeds in slow motion to the stage. Berger, assisted by Sheila, a student protester type, cuts a piece of Claude’s Hair and burns it as a sacrifice. The cast forms a large circle and Ronnie Dyson breaks into Aquarius, heralding a new age, the dawning of Aquarius. Berger strips down to his briefs, wanders about the audience, and returns to sing Donna, a fast rock number about a sixteen-year-old virgin whom he misses. While singing he swings out over the audience on a rope, like a hippie Tarzan. We then divide into groups to sing about different drugs – hashish, cocaine, heroin, opium, LSD, DMT, STP, and so on. Then, seemingly without transition, we form into different poses – the Madonna and Child; Christ on the Cross – while Woof, another pal of Claude’s, sings as if it were a church hymn, Sodomy, a song about different sex acts – fellatio, cunnilingus, masturbation, everything in sex that’s considered “dirty.” Hud, a pioneer Black hippie type, is carried onstage by two White boys hanging upside down from a pole Hud sings Colored Spade: listing the stereotypes people have labeled Blacks – colored spade, nigra, black nigger, jungle bunny – while three Black girls “tar” (mud) and feather Claude. While he is being washed clean of mud and feathers, Claude sings Manchester. Then Hud, Woof, and a new tribal member, Dionne, sing a song about have-nots, Ain’t Got No (homes, shoes, money). Sheila enters as if on horseback and Hud hands her a poster. After her song, I Believe In Love, the protest rally begins with Sheila, as leader, asking the cast what they want. Cast: Peace! It became a chant. A trap door in the stage opens and out pops Jeanie, who sings Air, a song about air pollution. At the end of the song, Jeanie climbs out of the “manhole” to reveal she’s pregnant by a crazy speed freak, and is in love with Claude. The cast, as though in a classroom, sings Initials a fanciful tune about LBJ taking a ride on the IRT downtown to the Village, and then Claude engages in a dialogue with three sets of mothers and fathers. The moms are men and the dads women and their exchange is a satire on parents in general. Finally, Claude sings I Got Life, a wistful celebration of the life within us all. Berger makes a dramatic entrance by jumping from the tower. Berger tells us he’s been expelled from school, sings Going Down while three school principals with Hitler-like mustaches do a spoof on schools and education. Claude enters, and we learn he’s passed his Army physical and is about to be drafted. A tourist couple come up from the audience, and when the woman asks: “Why the long hair?” Claude and Berger lead us into Hair, the play’s theme song, if there is one, which enumerates every conceivable type of hair and hair type. The tourist lady, apparently beginning to see the light, sings My Conviction. When Berger makes some comment about her dress, she says she’s not wearing one and flings open her fur coat to reveal she’s clad only in a pair of jockey shorts. “She” is a “he” in drag. After singing, Sheila, Franklin, Sheila, who digs Berger, gives him a yellow satin shirt. But he gets angry, rips up the shirt, and Sheila sings Easy To Be Hard, about how cruel people can be to one another. As Claude tries to cheer up Sheila, Jeanie re-emerges from her “manhole” and gives the audience a rundown on who’s hung up on whom: Jeanie on Claude, Claude on Berger and Sheila, Sheila on Berger, Berger on everyone, and Woof on Berger, though he says he’s hung up on Mick Jagger. This is followed by a spoof on American flag worship (Don’t Put It Down) in which Woof, Berger, and another tribal member pay mock tribute to the flag (which is actually bunting), folding it according to Army regulations. The cast descends into the audience supposedly on their way to a be-in but to wind up backstage for costume changes. Crissy shows up, and in one of the rare, quiet moments in the show, sings of her love for “Frank Mills.” The tinkling of bells offstage is the cue for the be-in to begin. The cast enters from the wings in colorful costumes – less hippie street-gear and more together, as though everyone has dressed for the occasion. As we sing and dance to Hare Krishna, a table with a small grill is set up and some of the boys burn their draft cards. When it’s Claude’s turn, he refuses to burn his. Suddenly, everything stops. The entire stage is covered with a scrim, and while Claude sings Where Do I Go?, those of the cast who have decided to strip, do so under the scrim. At the cue, the nudes stand up singing Beads, Flowers, Freedom, Happiness in dimmed lights. Sirens are heard in the distance, getting progressively louder. All the theater lights are cut, the cast exits and the house lights flash back on to an empty stage. Suddenly what appear to be two policemen announce that everyone in the theater is under arrest. The audience is informed that it’s Intermission. Act II Hud walks onto a dark stage carrying a wind-up Victrola. Crissy listens to an old Kate Smith recording of “White Cliffs Of Dover.” A spotlight picks up four cast members dressed in mirrored costumes. They begin to sing a hard rock number about the media, Electric Blues, as the rest of the cast enters, flashing flashlights. Then the whole stage, cast, and music go wild under a multitude of strobe lights. Once again the stage is darkened for Oh Great God Of Power, a spoof on Con Edison. Claude roars up from the audience on a motorcycle, dressed in a gorilla costume, growling at the audience and cast. He takes off the gorilla head to reveal who he is and tells us he’s just returned from the induction center. Everyone tries to make a joke out of it. Berger and another guy create a mock scene of what happened to Claude at the draft board. Claude gives Woof a poster of Mick Jagger, as Woof tells us how hung up he is on the entertainer. Three White girls sing, Black Boys, about their preference for Black men, which is followed by three Black girls in a red-sequined dress and blond fright wigs who sing about White Boys. The whole White Boys number is a spoof on the Supremes. In the middle of the song the three of us suddenly stepped apart to reveal we were all wearing one large stretch dress. Berger hands out “joints” to the cast and everyone turns on. The stage lights are dimmed and the cast sings Walking In Space, about tripping on drugs. Claude’s trip begins. Under dimmed lights, five guys do an Army number; the lights come up and Berger, now George Washington in powdered wig and robe and followed by six or seven members of his “army,” all girls, is ordered to retreat. He rides offstage, and four Indians – Tonto, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and Little Beaver – shoot down the “army” with bows and arrows. But General Grant, in Rebel uniform, appears, resurrects the army which now consists of Abraham Lincoln, John W. Booth, Calvin Coolidge, Clark Gable, Scarlet O’Hara, Teddy Roosevelt, and General Custer. Lincoln is the only one in costume. He’s wearing a fine brocaded velvet jacket, red, white and blue stockings, and a raggedy top hat. His hair is also braided with white ribbons. They dance a minuet and are attacked by three African witch doctors. The head witch doctor, Hud, has a confrontation with Lincoln, then the three witch doctors break into a song about freedom and emancipation, after which Lincoln recites a mock Gettysburg Address while a White girl shines his shoes (sometimes with her hair). The trio sings Happy Birthday, Abie Baby, then pretends to shoot Lincoln. But instead of falling, Abie says, “I’m not dying for no White man.” Four Buddhist monks enter wearing long robes. One is supposedly set on fire, and three Catholic nuns strangle the remaining monks with their rosary beads. In quick succession: three astronauts kill the nuns with ray guns; three Chinese kill the astronauts with knives; three American Indians kill the Chinese with bows or tomahawks; three Green Berets kill the American Indians and each other with machine guns. The entire scene is then repeated in reverse and original sequence under strobe lights. The lights come up again and a sergeant is reading a roll call. Two parents are talking to a suit on a hanger as if it were their boy in service. A childlike tune is heard in the background. The cast starts playing children’s games, which slowly evolve into simulated war games that get pretty frantic. The cast sings 3-5-0-0, a surrealistic anti-war song. The words are whispered, then built into a pitch, finally yelled in a freak-out. Meanwhile, two members of the tribe are watching from the tower. They sing What A Piece Of Work Is Man, a verse from Shakespeare set to music. Still singing, they descend from the tower and walk around the bodies onstage. The song ends and they too fall down. Then everyone in the cast sits up as if awakening from a dream, sings a few lines from Walking In Space, and Claude’s trip is over. Sheila, trying to escape the reality of Claude’s pending Army induction, sings Good Morning Starshine. Four boys carry a mattress on top of which is Crissy while The Bed, a song about various uses of a bed, is sung by the cast. The cast says good-bye to Claude. An Army sergeant is waiting as Claude backs off stage, singing Ain’t Got No. The cast re-enters from all sides playing instruments – garbage cans, sticks, garbage-can tops, flutes, etc. – which build in rhythm and intensity as we go into a “Hell no, we won’t go!” bag. The cast freezes; Claude appears dressed in Army clothes with cropped hair. He sings the opening of the finale, The Flesh Failures (Let The Sunshine In), but none of us can see or hear him. He talks to Berger but Berger can’t hear him. He then sings a reprise of Manchester England and is joined by a trio which sings Eyes Look Your Last. Finally the whole cast comes to life and covers Claude’s face with their hands, and he lies down slowly as if dying. We surround him. Sheila sings the first verse of Flesh Failures and we all line up at the foot of the stage to sing Let The Sunshine In. Everybody’s doing their own thing – holding hands, waving their hands, etc. We eventually walk offstage singing. Claude is revealed lying onstage as if dead.

Credits

Ron: Ronald Dyson Claude: James Rado Berger: Gerome Ragni Woof: Steve Curry Hud: Lamont Washington Sheila: Lynn Kellogg Jeanie: Sally Eaton Dionne: Melba Moore Crissy: Shelley Plimpton Mother: Sally Eaton, Jonathan Kramer, Paul Jabara Father, Principal: Robert I. Rubinsky, Suzannah Norstrand, Lamont Washington Tourist Couple: Jonathan Kramer, Robert I. Rubinsky Waitress: Diane Keaton Young Recruit: Jonathan Kramer General Grant: Paul Jabara Abraham Lincoln: Lorrie Davis Sergeant: Donnie Burks Parents: Diane Keaton, Robert I. Rubinsky The Tribe: Donnie Burks, Lorrie Davis, Leata Galloway, Steve Gamet, Walter Harris, Diane Keaton, Hiram Keller, Marjorie LiPari, Emmaretta Marks, Natalie Mosco, Suzannah Norstrand, Robert I. Rubinsky. Musicians: Electric Piano: Galt MacDermot Guitars: Steve Gillette, Alan Fontaine Bass: Jimmy Lewis Woodwinds, Reeds: Zane Paul Trumpets: Donald Leight, Eddy Williams Percussion: Warren Chaisson Drums: Idris Muhammad