The Age of Aquarius Continues! Where Are They Now? The 2009 Revival of Hair

News   The Age of Aquarius Continues! Where Are They Now? The 2009 Revival of Hair
 
The 2009 Broadway revival of Hair made quite a splash with its stellar vocal performances by a cast that became committed to real-life political activism during the run of the show. Check in on where the cast is now — from understudies and swings right up to the starring roles — with this edition of Where Are They Now? — the 2009 revival of Hair.

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Hair shocked the musical theatre world when it premiered in downtown New York City at the Public Theater in 1967; its music was loud and its message was incredibly liberal compared to its uptown Broadway competition. It was also very much of its time, so much so that the piece itself has become an inseparable part of the zeitgeist of the 1960s. Several songs from the score, such as "The Age of Aquarius," "Good Morning Starshine" and the title song, have even become recognizable hits outside of the context of the show.

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40 years later, Hair made a return to the Public, in the form of a concert production presented at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. The audience response to the production was huge, so the Public decided to mount a fully-staged revival nine months later, again at the Delacorte. Six months after that, the production transferred to the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on Broadway, with much of the same cast that had been in the two earlier versions. This production, which opened March 31, 2009, went on to win the 2009 Best Revival of a Musical Tony Award. It ran for a little over a year and 519 performances, after which it toured the United States, played London's West End and even returned to Broadway for 67 more performances in 2011.

The 2009 Broadway revival cast got attention for more than just their performances as well; the producers and cast took the show's theme of activism to heart when the production was shut down for a few days in October 2009 so that the cast could participate in the National Equality March, a political rally that called for the equal protection of LGBT people.

Click through below to check-in with the 2009 Broadway revival cast of Hair — from understudies and swings all the way up to the show's leads — and see what they're up to today.

Jay Armstrong Johnson (Swing and Claude u/s)
Jay Armstrong Johnson has had a near-meteoric rise to becoming a Broadway leading man; he left NYU where he was studying musical theatre after his sophomore year to join the national tour of A Chorus Line, a production he stayed with for about seven months. Soon after returning to the city, he was cast in the 2009 revival of Hair as a swing and understudy to the leading role of Claude. Months later, Gavin Creel got sick and Johnson got to make his onstage Broadway debut as the star of the show.

Jay Armstrong Johnson and Alysha Umphress in <i>On the Town</i>
Jay Armstrong Johnson and Alysha Umphress in On the Town Photo by Joan Marcus

A few months later, Johnson was back on Broadway standing by for Aaron Tveit in Catch Me If You Can in the leading role of conman Frank Abagnale, Jr. Though he never got to go on in the role ("Aaron Tveit is a machine," he's said) he did get to sing the role's big song, "Goodbye," at several events around town. Soon after Catch Me closed up shop on Broadway, Johnson began developing Hands on a Hardbody. On Broadway and in La Jolla (where the show was developed), Johnson created the role of Greg, a young man with dreams of becoming a stuntman in Hollywood. Finally given the opportunity to step out of the wings and play a role on Broadway full-time, Johnson was able to make quite a splash, playing opposite his fellow Hair castmate Allison Case.

Soon after Hardbody, Johnson was cast as Chip in On the Town at Barrington Stage Company. This production was so successful that it gave way to a developmental lab in 2013 and ultimately a full-scale Broadway revival, which opened October 2014 and is still running today. He also appeared in concert productions of Sweeney Todd and The Most Happy Fella in between On the Town's lab and Broadway opening.

Josh Lamon (Swing)
Josh Lamon had quite a time with Hair; he started as a swing and understudy for several roles, but went on to become a full-time replacement in the roles of Margaret Mead, Hubert, John Wilkes Booth, Dad and the Principal. After Broadway, Lamon joined the national touring company. When the show made a return engagement on Broadway in 2011, Lamon was part of that original company.

After Hair, Lamon performed in the ensemble of the 2012 Broadway run of Elf, created the role of Buddy in the original Off-Broadway company of William Finn's Little Miss Sunshine, and then created the role of Mr. Cromer in this season's Finding Neverland. He also just played the role of Richard the nurse in Encores! Off-Center production of A New Brain.

Andrew Kober
Andrew Kober

Andrew Kober (Dad/Margaret Mead)
Andrew Kober was one of the performers that was involved with Hair throughout its return journey to Broadway; he played the roles of Dad and Margaret Mead in both Central Park presentations, the 2009 Broadway revival production and the 2010 London revival production. After playing some small roles in TV series such as "Pan Am" and "House of Cards," he returned to Broadway in the 2014 revival of Les Misérables. He is part of the ensemble, while also playing the featured roles of Babet and the Innkeeper. He performed in Les Miz alongside his former Hair castmates Will Swenson and Caissie Levy. Allison Guinn (Ensemble)
The hilarious Allison Guinn also followed the revival production of Hair from Central Park to Broadway, the West End, a US national tour and back to Broadway. She was originally a member of the tribe, but by the time the production returned to Broadway, Guinn had moved up to the roles of Mother and Buddahdalirama. Currently, she's back on Broadway playing the sickly Lucy Schmeeler in the revival of On the Town. Several of her scenes have her sharing the stage with her former Hair castmate Jay Armstrong Johnson!

Steel Burkhardt
Steel Burkhardt

Steel Burkhardt (Ensemble and Berger u/s)
Burkhardt made his Broadway debut in Hair, playing a member of the tribe and understudying the leading role of Berger. He traveled with the company to London for he 2010 West End revival production, where he ultimately became a full-time replacement Berger. He continued as Berger in the US national tour, and was still with the company when it returned to Broadway in 2011. Since Hair, Burkhardt has come back to Broadway in Aladdin. He has played the title role's friend Kassim since late 2014 and is still with the company today.

Kacie Sheik (Jeanie)
Playing Jeanie, Kacie Sheik (sister to Duncan) got a featured moment singing the bouncy song "Air." She was one of the few cast members who remained with the production from the initial Central Park concert to Broadway, London, US National Tour and back to Broadway — all while remaining in the same role. Post Hair, Sheik was part of a 2011 American Psycho workshop and played the role of Gypsy Rose Lee in the new musical February House at both the Long Wharf Theatre in Connecticut and the Public Theatrer where Hair began. She also has performed solo concerts at venues such as Joe's Pub and recorded an EP. More recently, she has appeared on television in "Elementary" and "Blue Bloods" and also works as a private musical theatre performance coach.

Bryce Ryness
Bryce Ryness

Bryce Ryness (Woof)
After making his Broadway debut in Legally Blonde, Bryce Ryness was in the company of Hair from the Central Park productions to Broadway and finally London. He played the role of Woof, who gets to sing the edgy and memorable song "Sodomy." After Hair finished its London run, Ryness headed to Los Angeles where he was in the world premiere casts of Leap of Faith and Dangerous Beauty. He stayed with Leap of Faith as it transferred to Broadway in 2012. In 2013, Ryness was again on Broadway in the ensemble of First Date. He played Joey Storms in the Playwrights Horizons Off-Broadway premiere of Fly By Night, performing alongside his former Hair castmate Allison Case. Even more recently, he played Starkey (a pirate) in NBC's live telecast of Peter Pan and at the moment he's on tour with Matilda The Musical playing the big bad Trunchbull herself.

Darius Nichols (Hud)
Like castmate Kacie Sheik, Darius Nichols remained with the revival cast of Hair in the role of Hud (singing "Colored Spade" and "I'm Black") from the initial Central Park concert on to Broadway, London, US National Tour and back to Broadway. In 2013, he joined the cast of The Book of Mormon as a member of the ensemble, and he is still with the show today.

Allison Case
Allison Case

Allison Case (Crissy)
Allison Case made her Broadway debut as Sophie in Mamma Mia! 10 days after the she closed the second Central Park production of Hair. Just a few months later, Case was back on Broadway when Hair transferred to the Al Hirschfeld. She travelled with the company to the West End, but left the production to create the role of Kelli Mangrum in the California and Broadway productions of Hands On a Hardbody. Most recently, she headed up the cast of Fly By Night at Playwrights Horizons. Sasha Allen (Dionne)
Sasha Allen may well be best known for playing Dee in the 2003 movie "Camp," in which she opens the film with her vocal performance of "How Shall I See You Through My Tears" from The Gospel at Colonus. When she made her Broadway debut in Hair, she again kicked the show off as the lead vocalist of the opening number, "Aquarius." Allen was one of the new cast members when the show transferred to Broadway, but she continued with the Broadway company to the West End in 2010. After Hair, Allen competed on season four of "The Voice," making it to the top five contestants before being eliminated. She appeared in such TV shows as "Blue Bloods" and "Power" before taking to the road to tour the country in Pippin, where she is currently the Leading Player. Pippin reunited Allen with her Hair director Diane Paulus, and it also again put her in the job of opening a show, this time with her performance of "Magic To Do."

Caissie Levy
Caissie Levy

Caissie Levy (Sheila)
Caissie Levy had some Broadway credits under her belt before she joined the cast of Hair; she was a replacement Penny Pingleton in Hairspray and also understudied Elphaba in Wicked. She joined the company of Hair after the Central Park productions and continued with the show through its West End engagement. Playing the role of Sheila, Levy got several opportunities to show off her vocal skills, singing "Easy To Be Hard," "I Believe In Love" and "Good Morning Starshine." Following Hair's West End revival, Levy stayed in London to create the role of Molly Jensen in Ghost The Musical, which opened in 2011. A year later, she brought the production to Broadway as well. She joined the cast of Murder Ballad for its 2013 Off-Broadway return engagement, after which she returned to Broadway playing Fantine in the 2014 revival of Les Misérables. When she's not performing, Levy coaches fellow performers in audition techniques, song interpretation and pop/rock vocal performance.

Will Swenson
Will Swenson Photo by Greg Mooney

Will Swenson (Berger)
Will Swenson made his Broadway debut as a replacement vocalist in Brooklyn. After stints in Lestat and 110 in the Shade (where he met his wife, Audra McDonald), he joined the cast of Hair from the first Central Park concert production. Swenson was cast in the role of Berger, comrade to Claude. The part is based on and was originally played by writer Gerome Ragni. Singing "Donna" and "Going Down," Swenson made quite an impact with his performance and was nominated for a 2009 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical.

Following his time in Hair, he led the cast of the Broadway production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, playing Tick. He moved on to create the role of Tom in the original Off-Broadway production of Murder Ballad, ultimately playing the role opposite his Hair co-star Caissie Levy. Remaining Off-Broadway, he created the role of Richard Hoover in Second Stage's premiere of Little Miss Sunshine.

Swenson made his return to Broadway in 2014, playing Javert in the currently-running revival of Les Misérables. He's recently left the production, but he's currently set to appear opposite his wife Audra McDonald at Williamstown Theatre Festival this August, in A Moon for the Misbegotten.

Gavin Creel
Gavin Creel Photo by Robert Mannis

Gavin Creel (Claude)
Gavin Creel made his Broadway debut creating the role of Jimmy Smith in 2002's Thoroughly Modern Millie, earning his first Leading Actor Tony Award nomination. After playing Jean-Michel in the 2004 revival of La Cage Aux Folles and Bert in Mary Poppins in the West End, Creel joined the cast of Hair for its 2009 Broadway engagement. After receiving his second Leading Actor Tony Award nomination for his performance, Creel travelled with the Broadway cast to London for the West End engagement.

After Hair, Creel opened the first national tour of The Book of Mormon as Elder Price. A year later, he hopped back across the pond to bring his Book of Mormon performance to London. Currently, Creel is playing Elder Price in The Book of Mormon on Broadway.

Creel has also become politically active within the theatre community. During his time with Hair, he co-created an organization called Broadway Impact that mobilizes a nationwide community of theatre professionals and fans to support marriage equality through various events and initiatives. It was as a part of this organization that the cast of Hair participated in the National Equality March. They have also produced equality rallies in Times Square, provided staff for HRC phone banks and produced awareness-raising concert series in conjunction with the casts of other Broadway shows.

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