TELLURIDE THEATRE: "HAIR," A TRIBAL LOVE ROCK MUSICAL AT THE PALM

Let the sun shine in, Tuesday, March 12 – Sunday, March 17, 8 p.m. at The Palm Theatre

hair_poster_finalThis winter, Telluride Theatre hopes to let the sun shine in between the (blessed) blizzards. Its winter 2013 blockbuster is the tribal rock musical “Hair.”

“Hair” celebrates and chronicles the 1960s, the era of Vietnam, peace, love, and flower children. As such, the musical is a breathless encomium to hippie culture and the spirit of a still-celebrated era in America’s history.

Telluride Theatre’s production should jog aging boomers’ memories about the passions and excesses of their past, as it crosses generations to remind us all that the pursuit of personal and world freedom is a constant struggle. In other words, “Hair” will mean different things to different segments of the community – although the subject it tackles, drugs, sex, inter-cultural, interracial relationships are universals. Its underlying message about love and understanding resonates today. (We all wish, louder.)

For Boomers, the Woodstock Generation, the Sixties is riddled with memories of the good – or bad – old days, when we were the centers of the universe. For those born in the Sixties, it’s a glimpse at their parents world and the exciting, often difficult times into which they hatched. For those even younger, especially Millennials, “Hair” will be a history lesson about the time a war in Southeast Asia and riots in black ghettos were brought into everyone’s living room through the medium of television, along with images of Bobby Kennedy’s bleeding body and Martin Luther King’s assassination.

Just remember, what goes around comes around.

The late-1960s, witnessed the campaigns of Eugene McCarthy and Richard Nixon, segregationist George Wallace and the end of Lyndon Johnson’s presidency. Peaceful demonstrators were being clubbed and beaten. God had long since been declared dead by Time magazine. With authority – parents and government– unmasked, where was America’s youth to turn?

The partial answer was to music, especially the music of long-hairs called The Beatles. Also Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the Doors, Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, Carole King and Janis Joplin. Those were the black and white men and women, many of whom had been born poor in ghettos, who carried messages at once romantic and revolutionary through electric, electrifying and psychedelic sounds.

Sounds and sentiments echoed in “Hair’s” soundtrack, which includes “Aquarius,” “Donna,” “Easy to be Hard,” and “Hair.”

The original “Hair” was created by two out-of-work, 50-something actors, Jame Rado and Gerome Ragni, who famously said they “wanted to create something new, some that transcended tot he stage the wonderful excitement we felt in the streets.” The exuberance Rado and Ragni were after was that of the long-haired, peace-loving, free-living, freewheeling hippies of the play’s “Tribe,” from New York’s East Village.

“Hair” was originally intended for Broadway, but got rejected time and again by established uptown suits, until the legendary producer Joe Papp came along. Papp liked the flower-power, anti-war sentiments of the script but suggested a score would enhance the book. Church organist Galt McDermot was called in to write the music celebrating hippie culture.

“Hair,” co-produced by Papp and Michael Butler, finally opened at the Biltmore Theatre in April 1968. The production closed in 1972 after almost 2,000 performances, the musical’s popularity fueled in part by a nude scene.

The controversial moment was inspired by a real-life incident; two men who took off their clothes way back when to antagonize the police during an informal anti-war demonstration. But the scene was really no biggie: it occurred for as long it took to say “beads, flowers, freedom, happiness” four times. It happens in the script in support of Claude, the hero, who is down to the wire about what to do about going to ‘Nam,  just before he sings “Where Do I Go? The writers meant the nude scene to mark a return to innocence.

It is anyone’s guess how Telluride Theatre will handle the full monty. In most productions, undressing was optional for cast members. (Sasha’s “Burlesque,” Telluride Theatre’s fundraiser? Well, that was a whole other story.)

Telluride Theatre’s “Hair” is directed by its artistic director, the abundantly talented Sasha Sullivan. Vocal direction is by Anna Robinson. Music Direction is Ethan Hale. The choreographer is returning local Lyndia Peralta. Set design is by Buff Hooper. Costumes are by Melissa Sumpter. Tree Priest does the lighting.

“Hair” features Jimmy Wilson, Mishky, Will Evans, Ashley Boling, Taylor Clay, Caroline Moore, Pamela Simonson, Anna Robinson, Bob Saunders, Dino, Mark Goldfolgel, Eileen Burns, Karen Clarke, Pamela Sante, Stewart Barbour, Cat Covert, Suzanne Cheavens, Laura Idema, Meghan Heller, Danielle Jenkins, Kristine Hilbert, Shelby Tullous, Teresa Frank, Elissa Dickson, Baerbel Hacke, Summer Colt, Susan Rehmann, Sumpter and Peralta

Band members include Bobbie Shaffer, Sam Burgess, Phil Hamilton and Hale.

Eager for a preview?

Watch this video from”The David Letterman Show” from who knows when. Should whet your appetite for the local show– in case you missed the show’s first incarnation in town – egads – 14 years ago.

Tickets $20, General Admission at  http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/317863 or call 970-708-3934.

Note: 18+ only – Under 18 requires an accompanying parent or adult guardian. This play contains adult material – hard language, sexual content, nudity, and hard drug use.

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