A new French version of the Rado-Ragni-MacDermot musical Hair has opened in Paris at the Theatre Mogador for a limited run. The original French premiere of Hair took place in 1969 at the Theatre de la Porte Saint-Martin, with a cast led by Julien Clerc, who would later become a very famous French singer. This new production of the "American Tribal Love-Rock Musical" (as it was billed at its creation) is the major French-language revival since 1969.
While the French lyrics of the 1969 production were provided by Jacques Lanzmann, this new version features lyrics by Joelle Angeli. "Good Morning Starshine" has now become "Bonjour Lune d'Argent" even if "Gliddy glup gloopy nibby nabby noopy la la la lo lo" remain unchanged. Right after the press night, Playbill On-Line asked producer Jacques Marouani if this production would get a cast recording. According to him, hopefully it will. A few record companies have expressed interest in the project.
Earlier this year, when asked about his cast, Marouani told Playbill On-Line "I don't need stars, Hair is the star and this musical has never been performed by stars. The plot is rich and the songs are famous. And I think I have found a company which will bring this musical to life and who have the talent to dance, sing and act." The final cast is made of 19 performers, most of them have already been seen in various Parisian musical theatre productions, even if most of them are very young.
As Marouani said to Playbill On-Line, there is no nudity in this production of Hair. "Nowadays, having naked people on stage doesn't bring anything to the show. I think we can suggest a lot of things : seduction, sensuality, desire, but we don't have to show it." A motto that also seems to have been adopted by director Jacques Rosny, Hair's souvenir brochure states that there is "no big sets and no big effects . . . Suggesting is more important than showing." But it doesn't prevent this production from sticking to the original values conveyed by the show: rebellious youths against war and conservative society, who promote sexual freedom and racial tolerance...
Of course, a special emphasis has been put on... [actual] hair. One could expect the conventional hippie-style long hair sported by every performer, but the poster, featuring the back of a black head shaved with the shape of peace sign, should have been the hint that there would definitely a fin de siecle touch to this production of Hair. Indeed, some of the performers have red or purple hair, or blonde dreadlocks. It might be time for a French production of Rent now. For tickets and information on Hair at the Theatre Mogador, call 331 53 32 32 00. Runs until Apr. 30.
-- By Stephane Ly-Cuong