City Paper is not for tourists
Hair, for its part, has always been a less sturdily built show than The Odd Couple. It is instead a sprawling, oft-rewritten mangle of throw-it-out-there-and-see-what-lands. Some of the tunes (“Aquarius,” “White Boys/Black Boys,” the staccato title number) are marvelous; others are just filler, and whole stretches of the book feel flabby. The Act 2 drug trip that pushes the show’s aimless, flailing hero through his alienation—and into a decision that will seal his future and sum up the musical’s anti-establishment concerns—involves not just a capsule history of the United States but a musical setting of Hamlet’s “What a piece of work is a man” speech. A little much, maybe?
That wandering boy, though, is sweetly embodied here by Paris Remillard, and there’s a touching chemistry where his emotions get tangled up with those of Jeanie, who’s carrying a kid she wishes were Claude’s. That’s half the battle, with Hair. (Most of the other half involves the charismatic narcissist Berger, played here by Steel Burkhardt, who’s as sexy and showy as he needs to be, but perhaps not as cruel and aloof.)
It’s hard to complain too loudly, though, about there being too much of a show that’s devoted to the idea that telling people you love them is worth doing, that touching the people you care about is right and good, that the world would be better if we thought about each other a little more and feared each other a little less. And let’s not forget all that energy, and all that joyous song: By the time Paulus’ full-throated cast and their raucous rock band power though a curtain-call reprise of “Let the Sun Shine In,” you’ll be excused for feeling a little bit like it has.