BY TOMMY ZANE GAYDAR EDITOR When “Hair” debuted on Broadway in April, 1968, it changed the face of the world forever. The self-proclaimed “American tribal love-rock musical” was an ever-growing cacophony of rebellious noise representing race relations, anti-war sentiment and the sexual revolution. America was in the midst of a major cultural rift between the status quo and the non-conformist, and progressive thinking of a younger generation. “Hair” was heard loud and clear, not just on Broadway, but all over the radio with Galt MacDermot’s instantly classic compositions “Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine,” “Good Morning, Starshine” and the emotionally evocative ballad, “Easy To Be Hard.” Gerome Ragni and James Rado’s book and lyrics deftly summed up young peoples’ confusion and disassociation, particularly those with fear-inducing draft cards, which often equaled a one-way ticket to Vietnam.
Fast forward to June, 2007. American troops are again fighting in an unpopular war, but public sentiment doesn’t seem quite as riled up. Parks are not filled with protesters every weekend, and the winner of American Idol seems to be more important to the common young adult than ending the war in Iraq. As I sit in the Prince Music Theatre awaiting the start of the performance, I observe a mostly older crowd, 45 and up, and a general feeling of tenseness. Will the ’60s revolutionizing “Hair” matter in the post-punk, post Nirvana world of Paris Hilton? The answer is a resounding YES.
Director Richard M. Parison, Jr. has maintained the original catharsis that “Hair” created 40 years ago. His no-nonsense approach and often underplayed and poignant take on “Hair” avoids the hammy gimmicks that so many other productions affect when portraying hippies and flower children as one-dimensional novelties. The Prince’s “Hair” is filled with great performances, including a titillating, multi-layered Claude, played by Ashley Robinson; a brash, headstrong Berger, played by Thom Miller and a rousing performance by Cherry Hill native Ari Butler as the flamboyant and sexually questioning Woof. The remaining ensemble cast is a highly-charged group of fine actors, deeply invested in the material and creating a highly emotional experience for the audience. Alyse Wojciechowski sings Frank Mills” with an infectious smile, while native Philadelphians Gabrielle Hurtt and Kallia Lynne bring their confident, soul voices to the production on “Aquarius” and “White Boys.” The set is amazing, and, yes, there is nudity! Run, don’t walk, to see “Hair” ASAP.
(“Hair” plays at the Prince Music Theatre now thru June 17. Tickets, call 215-569-9700.
There’s a special Gay Pride Night performance at 8 p.m. Sat., June 8. th )
MEOW MEOW PURRS AT L’ETAGE
Did you ever wonder about those kitties in cages at the airport being transported to places afar? Ever want to open the door and let them run out? That’s exactly what Earl Dax’s Direct From NYC Productions unleashed on L’Etage on May 24. Meow Meow is a consummate performer with a many-layered approach to cabaret. Yeah, sure you were going to hear Marlene Dietrich-styled songs sung in Italian or German, but what really caught my eye is Meow Meow’s genius environmental panache. Besides being an accomplished chanteuse with an amazing vocal range and command of several languages, Meow Meow possesses the additional skill of breaking the fourth wall and reading her audience into submission. Throughout the performance, Meow Meow generously demands audience participation, but beware, when handling them, kitties can scratch! Personally, I loved the invasion of my personal space, but I could see how some folks may not care for this brand of theatrical masochism. Meow Meow’s press release describes her as dedicated to joy, sex, art, politics, kitsch, cunning multilingualism, tragedy, torch, tango, punk, possibility, decrepitude, deconstruction karaoke and high glamour. That’s my kinda gal! Meow Meow is truly an original, a diamond in the rough. I will definitely be seeking her out the next time she’s in town.
THREESOME OF THE WEEK:
Recently ousted “View” loudmouth Rosie O’Donnell + Tritone’s “Rock-N-Roll High School” co-host and birthday girl Miss Chatty Cathy + recently deceased queer comedic legend, Charles Nelson Reilly.
ABOUT THIS COLUMN: Are you gay and read Phawker? Or just thinking about it? Becoming gay that is. Because, you know, you ?heard good things.? Are you straight but curious how the other team plays? Congressman, we have heard your call and answered your prayers. Our Gaydar Editor Tommy Zane is gay all day and queer for a year, and like all gays he is wickedly funny, stylish, tidy and knows from window treatments. He could also probably kick your ass into next week. But don’t worry, Tommy’s a lover not a fighter. He may be going to hell, but then most of our straight friends are, too. Every week look for GAYBO. We’ll have a gay old time!