"Let the Sunshine In": All-Star Hair Concert Plays the New Amsterdam Sept. 20

News   "Let the Sunshine In": All-Star Hair Concert Plays the New Amsterdam Sept. 20 Hair, the fourth annual benefit concert for the Actors' Fund of America, is set to raise the roof at the New Amsterdam Theatre Sept. 20.
Naomi Kakuk and Raul Esparza rehearse for the Hair concert
Naomi Kakuk and Raul Esparza rehearse for the Hair concert Photo by Aubrey Reuben

The 7:30 PM concert at the home of The Lion King follows acclaimed concert presentations of Dreamgirls, Funny Girl and, most recently, Chess.

Each of the concerts boasted stellar casts, and this year's event will be equally starry. As of press time, the rock musical — featuring such tunes as "White Boys," "Black Boys," "Sodomy," "Aquarius," "Manchester England," "Frank Mills," "Easy to Be Hard" and "Good Morning Starshine" — is set to star Shoshana Bean, Laura Benanti, Kathy Brier, Liz Callaway, Paul Castree, Chuck Cooper, Gavin Creel, Darius de Haas, Lea DeLaria, Raúl Esparza, Harvey Fierstein, Hunter Foster, Ana Gasteyer, Annie Golden, Ann Harada, Jackie Hoffman, Jennifer Hudson, Ledisi, Norm Lewis, Brandi Chavonne Massey, Michael McKean, Idina Menzel, Euan Morton, Julia Murney, Nancy Opel, Orfeh, Adam Pascal, Billy Porter, Jai Rodriguez, RuPaul, Christopher Sieber, Shayna Steele, John Tartaglia, Toxic Audio and Lillias White with Harris Doran as Claude.

These talents will be joined onstage by a company that comprises Meredith Akins, Aliane Baquerot, Jerad Bortz, Isaac Calpito, Stuart Capps, Kate Chapman, Brian Corey, Bobby Daye, Mary Faber, Jenifer Foote, Julie Garnyé, Chris Ghelfi, Lucia Giannetta, Brian M. Golub, Geoffrey Hemingway, MaryAnn Hu, Naomi Kakuk, Trent Armand Kendall, Evan Knapp, Kenway Hon Wai K. Kua, Jason S. Little, Julie Lyke, J. Elaine Marcos, Orville Mendoza, DeQuina Moore, Anisha Nagarajan, Darius Nichols, Craig Ramsay, Eliseo Roman, Nell Snaidas, Shanna VanDerwerker, Jessica Walker, Brooke Wendle, Jason Weston, Schele Williams, Gustavo Wons and Christopher Zelno.

The brainchild of musical director Seth Rudetsky, the actor-comedian-musician previously told Playbill On-Line, "Hair was the first Broadway show I ever saw. Every single song is amazing. I'm obsessed with it! I'm obsessed with the music and with the lyrics. I'm working closely with [Hair composer] Galt MacDermot, and we're trying to get members of the film's original band to play the concert."

Rudetsky said the cast will be very large with more than one actor playing a particular role. "I really try to pick shows that have as much music as possible. Hair has such great music that you can really spread the wealth. It may be one person per note!" Devanand Janki and Christopher Gattelli co-direct and co-choreograph the concert. Rudetsky again serves as musical director and conductor of the orchestra. The creative team also features Paul Weimer (scenic designer), Jeff Croiter (lighting designer), Scott Stauffer (sound designer), Michael Crowler (costume coordinator), Elaine McCarthy (projection designer). Gattelli, Janki and Tim Pinckney adapted the musical for this concert version.

The Actors' Fund benefit concert series began with a Dreamgirls concert featuring the talents of Lillias White, Heather Headley and Audra McDonald. The Funny Girl concert boasted a slew of Fanny Brices, including Carolee Carmello, Kristin Chenoweth, Sutton Foster, Ana Gasteyer, Whoopi Goldberg, Spencer Kayden, Jane Krakowski, Judy Kuhn, La Chanze, Ricki Lake, Andrea Martin, Idina Menzel, Julia Murney, Bebe Neuwirth and Lillias White. And last season's Chess concert included pop star Josh Groban and theatre favorites Julia Murney, Adam Pascal, Norm Lewis and Sutton Foster.

Hair focuses on a group of hippies — called The Tribe — in New York City in the late 1960's, and gives voice to their passions and frustrations in loose scenes and interactions, including a rant against war, an embrace of free love (including a group nude scene) and odes to nature, life, drugs and multiculturalism. Book and lyrics are by Gerome Ragni and James Rado, music is by Galt MacDermot. Tom O'Horgan was the original director. Heather MacRae, Melba Moore, Keith Carradine and Joe Morton were among performers in the early Broadway run of the show, at the Biltmore Theatre.

Tickets for the Hair concert are available by calling (212) 221-7300. For more information, go to www.actorsfund.org.

The Actors' Fund of America, a nonprofit organization founded in 1882, provides for the social welfare of all entertainment professionals. Its headquarters and The Aurora Residence are located in New York City, and its nursing home and assisted living care facility are in Englewood, New Jersey.

The company rehearses for the <i>Hair</i> concert
The company rehearses for the Hair concert Photo by Aubrey Reuben