City Center's Encores!, the popular series of musical revivals in concert, has found its Claude, Hud, Jeanie and other members of the hippy-dippy, hairy crew that will make up the cast of Hair, the final production in its 2001 line-up. Luther Creek, Brandi Chavonne Massey, Michael McElroy, Idina Menzel, Miriam Shor and Jessica-Snow Wilson will all be in the cast. The production will play City Center, May 3-7.
Creek will play Claude, the role originally played in 1968 by co-lyricist-librettist James Rado. The actor playing the show's leading free spirit, Berger — first played by Rado's collaborator Gerome Ragni — has not been named. Michael McElroy, perhaps best known for his turn as a soldier in the Off-Broadway musical Violet, will play Hud, while Miriam Shor is Jeanie, Brandi Chavonne Massey plays Dionne (a part created by Melba Moore) and Jessica Snow Wilson essays Crissy. Finally, you knew a new mounting of Hair had to include one of the original cast members of Rent, a show heavily indebted to Hair; Idina Menzel will fill the role of Sheila.
Also in the cast are Rosalind Brown, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Billy Hartung, Todd Hunter, Sheri Sanders, and Yuka Takura.
The legendary, counter-culture musical, by the untried team of Ragni and Rado and composer Galt MacDermot, debuted at the New York Shakespeare Festival, courtesy of Joe Papp. Neophyte producer Michael Butler saw the show and moved it a disco in the Broadway area and, finally, to the Biltmore Theatre, where it ran for several years. Tom O'Horgan directed the production. Also in the cast were Steve Curry, Lamont Washington, Lynn Kellogg, Sally Eaton and a young Diane Keaton.
A 1979 film by Milos Foreman starred Treat Williams, Beverly D'Angelo, John Savage and Annie Golden. Williams and Golden are both on Broadway at present, in Follies and The Full Monty, respectively. *
Hair is enjoying a new lease on life of late. Productions are also scheduled for the "Reprise!" series in Los Angeles and the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, Long Island.
—By Robert Simonson