Hair's Central Park Revival Still Shines With Youthful Energy; Buffalo Gal Skillfully Reworks Chekhov

Still grows on you 40 years later; Gurney's new play tells a more rueful comeback story

A home for fleas, a hive for bees: 
Will Swenson and Jonathan Groff in  Hair
Michal Daniel
A home for fleas, a hive for bees: Will Swenson and Jonathan Groff in  Hair


By Gerome Ragni, James Rado, and Galt MacDermot
Delacorte Theater, Central Park

Buffalo Gal
By A.R. Gurney
Primary Stages59 East 59th Street212-279-4200

Lynn Yaeger on Hair in Central Park

A.R. Gurney's new Buffalo Gal, at Primary Stages, revisits the past too, as a fading TV star comes back to her hometown (always Buffalo in Gurney's work) to play Ranevskaya in a small local theater's production of The Cherry Orchard. Since Ranevskaya herself, in Chekhov's play, comes home only to sell the family estate and depart again, we know how ruefully this will end, but Gurney has his usual skillful fun juggling the juxtaposed stories. The estate that his diva (Susan Sullivan) has turned her back on is the theater itself; in lieu of an impossible lover in Paris, she has to choose between a juicy new sitcom out west and the local dentist (Mark Blum) who's pined for her since adolescence. Director Mark Lamos, working with a lighter touch than usual, teases a bittersweet, loving sensibility out of Gurney's cunning jokes and variants on his Chekhovian source. The whole cast, like Hair's, feels spiritedly engaged, especially Sullivan, Blum, and Jennifer Regan as the small theater's beleaguered artistic director, while little Carmen M. Herlihy, an animated dumpling of a comedienne, steals laughs like crazy as an overeager assistant.

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