Running Nov. 21 through Dec. 8, the musical Hair at Connecticut Repertory Theatre will offer an entirely new script, this one dealing with "issues that confront young adults today, such as AIDS, drugs, teen pregnancy, and struggles for personal identity."
Constance Grappo, Literary Advisor and Director of the new play reading series at New York's WPA Theatre, is currently in Connecticut readying the new production of Hair, which she has directed and revised. Hair was scripted by James Rado and the late Gerome Ragni, with music by Galt MacDermot. Grappo thanks "the original collaborators for allowing us to revise the script for this production."
Asked about the differences between late 1960's Hair and mid 1990's Hair, adapter/director Grappo told Playbill On-Line, "The original was billed as a `tribal love-rock musical,' and the cast was thought of as a tribe. Today's society is much more fragmented, people are always looking to be a part of something. This production will reflect that. Also, back then, the kids were focused on issues like the War, the generation gap. Today people are much more distracted." Now, as then, however, the ultimate theme comes down to "people looking for an identity."
The production will feature a full rock band and try to keep the excitement of the original. "When I spoke with James Rado, we agreed this would be an experiment. There was no intention of making this THE new big Hair revival with a long life. It's more in the spirit of the original, though the music has always related to today."
Hair will feature performances by Mark Adams, Robin Aronson, Joe Beaudin, Heather Britton, Beth Carusillo, Laura Celentano, Steven Fales, Tony Garcia, Rob Gil, Jessica Gilbert, Karen Giles, Rondell Gulley, Matthew T. Heron, Christian Levatino, Sheila Logan, C. Mingo Long, Sandee L. Rollins, Jim Rose, Richard Ruiz, Susan Spain, M.J. Tomsic, Jason Turner, Joshua Tussin and Julia W. Yong. Lighting is by Stephen Hill, sound by Ron Perkins, sets by Tim Saternow, with musical direction by Kenneth S. Clark.
Director Grappo holds an MFA from Yale School of Drama and is the recipient of a Fox Foundation Fellowship. Choreographer Tony Stevens received L.A. Weekly and Drama-Logue Awards for his direction of Get Happy at the Westwood Playhouse. His Broadway choreography resume includes Perfectly Frank, Rachel Lily Rosenbloom, Rockabye Hamlet and Wind In The Willows. He also assisted Bob Fosse on the original Chicago and Peter Gennaro on Irene. Hair, which opened on Broadway April 29, 1968, may boast the most tuneful score in all pop-oriented theatre, from "Frank Mills" to "Easy To Be Hard," from "Let The Sunshine In" to the title number.
Hair will play at the Harriet S. Jorgenson Theatre at the University of Connecticut Storrs campus (Connecticut Rep is the producing arm of the Dramatic Arts Department). For tickets ($10-$12) and information, call (860) 486-3969.
-- By David Lefkowitz