‘Hair’: A timely reincarnation

Lawrence Stallings, Steel Burkhardt and Matt DeAngelis perform

Anyone who can remember “Let The Sun Shine In”, “Aquarius” and “Good Morning Starshine” will remember the intensity of the ’60s. It was defined by anti-Vietnam war sentiments, burning draft cards, the hippie revolution, flower children, sex, drugs and free love – just to get started.

Perhaps the stars aligned to bring “Hair” to San Francisco when demonstrations are erupting from a more sophisticated, over-educated and underemployed society, which seems to be walking down the same yellow brick road of revolt.

Playwrights and lyricists Gerome Ragni and James Rado captured the times with their somewhat loosely autobiographical plot with Galt MacDermot’s music, and have always had a lasting impression on the generations that followed their journey to Broadway, revival and many awards.

“Hair” is 44 years old and the American tribal-love-rock musical revival bounds onto the Golden Gate Theatre with a renewed gusto that sometimes pushes a little too hard. Director Diane Paulus’s cast is all over the place, hugging and cuddling the audience, and planting flowers in any handy head. They materialize in the front and the back of the house and encourage the audience to clap hands – they somehow even briefly choreograph the front row.

The exuberant cast moves nonstop through the well-lit first act and closes with the famous nude scene – up until the audience is invited on stage to join dancing in the wild, second act finale. These were shocking groundbreakers in the ’60s but somehow seem less striking and outrageous in our times.

For those who were present during that era, this might be a jarring entry into a road of nostalgia that some may not want to revisit. For others, the freedom of the times – compared to today – was so very innocent and an event to be entertained by.

‘Hair’
Note: Profanity and nudity
Where: Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor at Market, San Fran
Through: Nov. 20
Details: (888) 746-1799 or shnsf.com.

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