Sunday, June 27, 2010

Eyes Look Your Last...

When RENT closed in 2008, I wrote a blog post about how much it meant to me. I did the same for Spring Awakening and Avenue Q, so I couldn't let one of my favorite productions close today without a tribute of some kind.

In September 2007, the Public Theater announced a three-night only 40th anniversary concert of Hair. I was in California at the time, having recently finished graduated school and still figuring out my next move, and was bummed that I had to miss it. Fortunately, by the time the Public announced a full production in Central Park for the summer of 2008, I was already living in New York, and my mom and sister were determined to come visit me so we could all see it together.

They came during previews, so the reviews hadn't come out yet, but because we had never done Shakespeare in the Park before, we cautiously arrived at 5 or 5:30 a.m. and ended up being one of the first people in line. A few hours later, I had to go to work, and they stayed until 1 to get the tickets. They ended up getting 2nd row seats--they were on the side, but that hardly mattered to us. We all love the music and would often listen to the original cast recording together, but my sister and I had never seen a production of the show. Though my mother saw it in Buenos Aires (in Spanish!), she didn't remember it too well and felt like she was seeing it for the first time as well. Throughout the show, we kept hitting each other at our favorite songs, not believing we were seeing it live, in such a beautiful setting. We were blown away by the talent on that stage. I never expected to be so moved by the show, but the ending was heartbreaking. After the bows, we of course joined the dance party. My mom and I were dancing and we somehow lost my sister in the crowd, but at the end of the dance party, she found us, excited and out of breath, informing us that she had just danced with Jonathan Groff (her idol). Seeing her happiness was just icing on the cake for us.

I've seen Hair many times (some would say too many) since then, in the park and on Broadway, but nothing will ever top seeing it for the first time. It's hard to explain why this show means so much to me without getting too personal, but some of my other favorite memories include seeing the closing night performance at the Delacorte, seeing swing and future star Jay Armstrong Johnson's Claude, and seeing it again with my mom and sister on Broadway (that time, the drummer gave my mom his drumsticks at the dance party).

It's unfortunate that the show couldn't last longer on Broadway, but it had a successful run, considering so many thought it would be a mistake to bring it to Broadway. Though I am sorry for those losing their jobs, I don't think the closing is a sad occasion. I know I'll be seeing the cast in many shows in the future. Everybody involved should be proud of all they've accomplished, not just with the production itself, but everything they've done to support marriage equality and other causes they believe in. And this isn't the end of Hair--a national tour is in the works and a book will be out in the fall (full disclosure: my friend wrote it and I helped out with some editing, but I'm telling you honestly, he's a great writer). There's only one way to end this post. LOVE!

Photo credit: Joan Marcus

1 comment:

Esther said...

I know how you feel. I only had a chance to see Hair once, at the Hirschfeld but it was one of my best theatre experiences ever. I've always loved the music, always been interested in the decade's history and culture. And I thought Diane Paulus and the tribe did a wonderful job evoking the spirit of the 1960s. I will definitely be looking for your friend's book!