Los Angeles' Reprise! sure knows how to upstage New York City's Encores!. Both concert series revisited Hair in 2001; New York loading the stage with former Rent cast members, while Los Angeles turned to Sam Harris, Jennifer Leigh Warren and TV's Steven Weber for Reprise!'s revival of the Galt MacDermot, Gerome Ragni and James Rado rock opera.
L.A. had one extra thing going for it, though. The nude scene. Yes, the illustrious names above took it all off for the legendary Act One finale. The last chance to catch this classic moment in musical theatre history, as recreated by Reprise!, is June 24 when Hair shutters at the Wadsworth Theatre.
Hair rocked Broadway when it transferred there from the Public Theatre in 1968. The loosely-plotted musical follows a group of young hippies as they live, love and then lose one of their number to the Vietnam War. "Aquarius," "Hair" and "Let the Sunshine In" were big pop hits; the score also includes "Frank Mills," "Easy to Be Hard," "Where Do I Go" and "Good Morning Starshine."
Harris, who stars as the drafted Claude, was Tony-nominated as JoJo in The Life. An L.A. Ovation Award winner for Hello, Again, Warren (Shelia) performed in South Coast Repertory's world premiere musical The Education of Randy Newman and in Broadway's Marie Christine and Big River. Weber (Berger) is best known for his work on "Wings" and the current sitcom "The Weber Show." His theatre credits include Death of a Salesman, The Real Thing, directed by Mike Nichols and The School for Wives directed by Olympia Dukakis.
Also in the cast were Rod Keller (Woof), Allan Louis (Hud), Stacy Francis (Dionne), Marissa Winokur (Jeannie), Alisan Porter (Crissy), and Dan O'Brien (Margaret Mead). Frequent Reprise! helmer Arthur Allan Seidelman directs. He staged last season's Reprise! staging of Mack and Mabel, now headed to Broadway, and is currently at work on Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks for the Geffen Playhouse.
Travis Payne choreographs with musical direction by Peter Matz. Payne's credits include the WB series "Popstars," Naked Boys Singing and the famous swing dance Gap Khakis commercial.
Tickets are $55. The Freud Playhouse is located in UCLA's Macgowan Hall. Call (310) 825-2101 or Ticketmaster Fine Arts Line for information.
According to Newsday (June 14), talk that the Encores! mounting of Hair would find a home on Broadway this season has cooled in recent weeks, but the Reprise! mounting has been rumored to be in search of a theatre in Los Angeles with Broadway to follow. A press representative at Davidson/Choy confirmed there were such rumors, but could guarantee nothing more.
— By Christine Ehren