The Forestburgh Playhouse celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock with its performance of the musical Hair. It ran from July 16th to 28th and contained partial nudity. Critics acclaimed the Forestburgh Playhouse’s rendition of Hair as “practically flawless”, with top notch costumes and a collaborative performance. Under the direction of director and choreographer Valerie Wright, critics also described the performance as “insightful” and beautiful.
Berger was portrayed by Chris Persichetti, an accomplished singer and actor who previously played Lonny in Forestburgh Playhouse’s production of Rock of Ages directed by Robin Levine. Sheila was portrayed by Chiara Trentalange, a mezzo soprano who has performed in many past productions of the Forestburgh Playhouse. This includes playing Rizzo in Grease, Missy Hart in 9 to 5, and Dinah in South Pacific.
The Hair musical is one of the most unique and memorable musical stage productions of all time. Its story of free love, youth culture, and anti-Vietnam sentiments remain poignant event today, as people question the purpose of war and the nuclear family. Here are some interesting facts about the musical Hair that you might not know.
There Wasn’t Always a Nude Scene
One of the most iconic parts of the Broadway version of Hair is its nude scene. However, this wasn’t always a part of the show. When Hair premiered in the Joseph Papp’s Public Theater for its six week engagement in 1967 and during its 45 performance engagement at the nightclub The Cheetah, there wasn’t any nudity. The nude scene was added for the Broadway opening at the Biltmore Theatre. Thirteen new songs, including the well-known song titled “Let the Sun Shine In,” were also added for the Broadway debut.
The Movie and the Stage Musical Have Different Plots
Spoiler alert. The stage and movie versions of the Hair musical aren’t the same. Many of the songs from the Broadway version aren’t in the film and much of the plot is changed. Most importantly, in the stage version, Claude is already a member of the hippie tribe in New York, whereas he’s an outsider in the film version. In the movie, Claude is a young man from Oklahoma drafted into the Vietnam war who awaits deployment in New York. In the stage show, Claude goes to Vietnam and dies. In the movie, Berger pretending to be Claude goes to Vietnam and dies.
First Rock Musical
Many consider the Hair musical the first real rock musical. At the time of its Broadway debut, musicals like Fiddler on the Roof and Hello Dolly were also on stage. In this way, Hair was ground-breaking. It successfully broke away from the traditional musical scores and plots found in other musicals at the time. It paved the way for other rock musicals, including Rent, Jesus Christ Superstar, Spring Awakening, and Godspell. It could be argued that these other musicals may not have happened without a musical like Hair to first create the genre.
Commercial Musical Success
The Hair musical wasn’t just a Broadway success. It garnered a lot of commercial music success, too. Several of the songs in the Hair musical ended up reaching top spots in the Billboard Top 40 charts in 1969. The Fifth Dimension’s version of “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In” reached the number one spot, whereas “Easy To Be Hard” by Three Dog Night made it all the way to number four. “Hair” by The Cowsills earned the number two spot. Even today, many people can recognize some of the songs featured in the Hair musical without having seen either the movie or a stage performance.
Many Famous Actors Performed in the Hair Musical
At one time or another, many very famous actors performed in Hair, whether during its original Broadway performance or in one of the many other professional performances around the world. Actors that once performed in Hair include Diane Keaton, Meat Loaf, Ted Lange, Tim Curry, Will Swenson, Gavin Creel, and Richard O’Brien. At its peak, there were 19 different productions of the Hair musical running at the same time around the world in many languages.
First to Jump from Off-Broadway to Broadway
Most Broadway shows start on Broadway, especially in the 1960s. It isn’t common for an Off-Broadway show to make the jump to Broadway. With the exception of shows like Hamilton and Avenue Q today, there aren’t very many popular examples. According to the Hair musical’s official website, it was the first musical to make that jump from an Off-Broadway theatre to Broadway.
The music, lifestyle, and values found in the Hair musical and the Woodstock festival are mostly synonymous. The debut of Hair on Broadway was in 1968. The beginning of Woodstock took place on August 15, 1969. The Forestburgh Playhouse celebrated the 50th anniversary of Woodstock with its performances of the Hair musical in July 2019. To learn more about upcoming performances, see what the Forestburgh Playhouse has scheduled at www.FBPlayhouse.org.