Stages Grows with New 'Hair'
Houston Live by Bill O'Rourke
As a whole, Stages production ofHairis,
a very, very good show. It's a bit of a
mixed bag, really, but any show that
can give me the electric cold goose-
bumps that this one did several times
and winds up with me on a crying jag is
It's its own animal. Director Ted
Swindley has paid more attention to the
Ardencie Hall sings "Let the sunshine
in" in the tribal love rock musical
"Hair," playing through May at
Stages Repertory Theatre
plot than did '67s Broadway director
Tom O'Horgan and his assistant Harvey Milk. This may be more like the original off-Broadway production. There
was a rumor at the time that it had
stayed closer to the script.
They beefed up the plot considerably
for the movie. So don't expect this to be
quite like that, either.
Although all three are/ were celebrations, the Swindley version comes off
the most critical of the tribe. Through
subtle emphasis, he never quite lets us
forget that women had not yet found
equality—even to the extent they have
today. Though relationships with
blacks were fairly good, they were a distinct tribe within the tribe with a separate, important agenda which their
white brothers do not seem to fully
embrace. There is one gay brother, but
he claims loudly that he isn't. You have
to remember that this was two years
The central character and the real,
star of this huge cast is Claude, played
by Curtis C. Alfrey. In the O'Horgan
staging he as pretty much an innocent
who became a sacrificial lamb when he
was drafted and then died in Viet Nam.
In the movie, the plot's changed so
much that he's an innocent bystander,
not a member of the tribe at all, really.
Then he's heroically saved. In this
Swindley retelling, he's a sweet but cor-
rupt little boy who finds his real roots,
gets the guts to face the truth and dies
bravely. In the O'Horgan, Claude's
going to war was seen as something of a
sell-out, cop-out, almost cowardly
Hair originally came out in '67. It can
be seen partially as that generation trying to explain itself to the '47 generation. That's stated specifically in one of
the songs. So it is perfect that we now
have the '87 generation examining the
work to see what it offers them. The vast
majority of this cast is too young to personally remember the period. So we are
guaranteed a fresh-eyed reappraisal.
But that is not exactly what Swindley
envisioned. "As a retrospective, it ...
allow(s) us to ask ... how we've
changed and how we've stayed the
same," to quote his notes from the program.
When we enter the theater, we do not
realize that those playing the leading
roles are sitting amongst us. Then the
rest of the tribe pulls them up onto the
stage and helps them to change into hippie garb.
Chris Kinkaid is a handsome, athletic
guy. (You may have seen him oh Channel 5.) So is Berger, the character he
plays. But instead of letting them meet,
Swindley has erected an extraneous
wall between them. Now Kinkaid is a
stud playing an older man remembering what it as like to be a stud. Why?
Because of this interpretation, the
show takes longer to get going strong
than it should. Possibly also because of
it, some of the songs are approached
almost like songs instead of rock. They
are examined with the head rather than
felt with the pelvis. The singers are in
control of the songs rather than vice
versa. The rhythms are there but the
APRIL 17, 1987 / MONTROSE VOICE 21
baseball game in Houston, the Houston
Stonewalls defeated the Galveston
Robert Lees 35-2.
Sunday April 19 is Easter.
B'days: William Holden, Olivia Hus-
sey, J.P. Morgan. 18—Clarence Darrow,
Virginia O'Brien, Hayley Mills. 19—
August Wilhelm Iffland, Elinor
Donahue, Jayne Mansfield. 20—Jessica
Lange, Harold Lloyd, Luther Vandross.
21—Elaine May, Iggy Pop, Anthony
Quinn, Queen Elizabeth II. 22—Glen
Campbell, Eddie Albert, Joseph Bottoms. 23—Lee Majors, William Shakespeare.
"But this wasn't the whole story—
that wouldn't be fair/ The memory of
his beauty deserves better"—poet C.V.
Cavafy (born April 17)
Judy Tenuta brings her unique
comedy show to the Comedy
Workshop April 21 in a benefit for the
There are 26 people in this show.
Obviously, I am unable to mention all of
them. But Michael Ballard has really
grabbed my attention this season, in
this and in Do, Lord. He is catching fire
and somebody had better build a show
around him, fast!
It seems like every 20 years or so,
something happens that kills scores of
Lillian Evans as Myra and Robert G\
Ages" playing through April 26 on the
But when these people do get down to
rockin', they can tear the joint apart.
There's one solo by Mary Hooper that
will tear your heart apart. There are chorus numbers that will tear words out of
your throat to sing along. (They encourage the audience to come in their old '60s
garb.) I couldn't help but sing along on
"Three-Five-Zero-Zero" which is about
bringing the war back home. Like I said,
these people often give men those cold,
shivery electric tingles that start in your
spine and don't let up 'til the whole
body's vibrating and you've got to move
something, tap your toe, whatever.
And my body shook again, with convulsive tears, when Claude died—
especially when they brought on the
Viet Nam War Memorial to remind us
he was only one of many. But they
should have taken it off again. "Let the
Sunshine In" was seen not so much as a
plea for peace and freedom as it was a
curtain call celebratory song. It was
quite jarring in an unhelpful way in
front of that set piece.
ham as Charles in "The Middle
Alley Theatre's Arena Stage
Americans. The government either is in
the forefront when it is a question of war
or is lagging behind when it is a question of disease. It never seems to
respond in a manner tht keeps its citizens happy. Perhaps, given time, The
Normal Heart will be seen as this generation's Hair.
Don't forget! Judy Tenuta's opening
night at the Comedy Workshop, April
21, isa benefit for the AIDS Foundation.
Also, April 21, is the 10th anniversary
of the opening of Annie. It's also the
night they've planned to open the
sequel, Annie II. I kid you not.
The Park, that lovely mall downtown,
is celebrating the Symphony with special decorations and events April 21-25.
Chrysalis Reportory Dance Company
is touring to Austin this week.
April 21, 1887—In the first recorded
The Chi-Lites (Rockefellers, 17 & 18)—
The silver anniversary tour
Crimes of the Heart (Theater Suburbia, 17)
One Enchanted Evening (Music Hall,
17 &18)~Newtown Wayland conducts
the Hosuton Pops in music by Richard
Kid City Waterways (Main Street
Theater, 18, 2:00 p.m.)
Marimba Magic (Zoo, 19, 2:30)—
Hal Tennyson's Big Band (Tranquility Park, 20, noon)—Freebies. ONO!
Judy Tenuta (Comedy Workshop,
21)—top-notch punk female comedian
Fantasy Island (Houston Center for
Photography, 22)—slide lecture by painter and sculptor Fletcher Macky. ONO!
Jacqueline Simone (UST Bookstore,
22)—reads from her short fiction. ONO!
Texas Troubadors (Main Street
Theater, 22)—different vocal singers
Arnette Cobb Jazz Quintet (Jones
Plaza, 23, noon)—Freebies. ONO!
Asleep in the Deep (UST, 23)—world
premiere of Pat Cook's newest murder
Donovan (Rockefellers, 23 & 24)—
Season of the Witch
Kind Sir (Actors Theater of Houston,
23)—A Broadway star falls in love with
a rogue who is pretending to be married
so he won't actually get caught.
The Marriage of Figaro (Heinen, 23)—
one of the funniest operas ever written
Norma (Jones, 23)—Houston Grand
Opera presents Ghena Dimitrova as a
woman whose thirst for love threatens
to destroy her and all she loves. Bellini's
bel canto masterpiece.
Call 529-8490 and
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