I was deeply moved by the Shakespeare in the Park revival of Hair, the anti-establishment, anti-plot, pro-love musical from the ’60s. A big, old hippie jamboree, it has the tie-died cast prancing around a grassy stage and belting the fantasia of songs right to the audience, which responds to the fact that the show’s antiwar theme and Rado-Ragni-Macdermot score are fresher than fertile dirt. The glorified revue floats from a list-song about not having shit (“Ain’t got no mother, ain’t go no culture, ain’t got no friends…”) to one about having it all (“I got my hair, I got my head, I got my brains…”), and the half-full approach totally wins out; even with a corpse onstage, the cast emerges to sing about sunshine and to race into the aisles to drag you onstage for some impromptu hullbaloo-ing. (I declined, whimpering, “I’m a critic.” That always scares interactive-type actors. It sure worked at Cats.)
Occasionally, a line will seem a little Mad TV-ish (“There’s a be-in tomorrow morning…Yip, yip, yip…”), but the whole thing clicks like a good trip, and the exuberance of the performers helps pull it off, along with all their clothes at one point. And though at first I wasn’t sure if Jonathan Groff—from this generation’s anti-establishment musical, Spring Awakening—was right for the war casualty Claude, he ended up tearing my heart out at least three times, so I guess he was brilliant. I also liked that in this version, he and the shirtless Berger (Will Swenson) practically seem like lovers, especially when a kneeling Berger glances interestedly at Claude’s crotch and when Claude jumps on top of Berger’s backside for a group mock-fuck!
But free? Not to the people who pay $70 for someone to wait on the ticket line all day for them. Ain’t got no friends?