To the editors:
Tom Boeker must have a sincere personal problem with the 60's and whatever went on in his life at that time. In his review of Hair [November 11], he really rips it to shreds (no pun intended). Citing it as a ridiculous anachronism, a Broadway exploitation of a misunderstood subculture, as well as insulting the musical score, the choreography, and the players, I feel that Tom Boeker has taken great advantage of the fact that three-fourths of Chicago looks to the Reader for a good review and he may have stirred a negative vibe in whoever read this previous to seeing the production.
Perhaps no show in the history of entertainment is without flaw. But come on, Tom. Of course the costumes will consist of fringed vests and bell bottoms--this is a 60's revival! Of course a lot of the guys will be wearing wigs. Of course almost all of the cast is under twenty-five and "weren't there" (this is 1988, and most readers do possess basic math skills). This is simply a revival of an age and culture many people want to remember. Why does he seem to be taking it so seriously and personally? Perhaps Hair simply captured the feeling and spirit of that time--a time people want to reminisce upon as funky and free--maybe something they don't have anymore. So maybe that spirit is truly dying. Does he have to dance on its grave?
Dominic Missimi may have over-used his big budget and thrown in one too many "technologized" eccentricities--fog machines, lasers, and video screens. But I'm sure it was all a sincere attempt to further capture and dramatize the spirit of that age. I don't think that it would be right to put someone down for giving it a wholehearted try.
Besides putting down the musical numbers, he continues by insulting the choreography--a staff which consists of highly acclaimed dancers/choreographers including Gus Giordano, Randy Duncan (artistic director for the Joseph Holmes Co.), and Rick Hilsabeck (of the Hubbard Street Dance Co.). He refers to the dancing as too "uniform" and claims the numbers that do have enough energy to draw attention are gimmicked with too many chorus line reproductions.
Maybe my biggest gripe with his opinions is the fact that I saw the show in preview and I found nothing he said anything to agree with. Okay, okay. I admit that all I know about 1968 is that on March 27th of that year, I was born. But what does he want? The original cast?
Being that hair itself is such an essential aspect of appearance for the production, where does one find room to complain if an actor of capable caliber who sports a crew cut must resort to a wig or hairpiece? (just for the record, the members of the cast have joked about renaming the production Hairpiece in other interviews, so lighten up, Tom.) I found the costumes spectacular--especially since suddenly the latest fashions include the "nouveau hippy" look that often gets too manufactured and trendy. I didn't think that in any way the dancing inhibited free expression. Every time that a group moved in combination, a few always strayed to the sides and back, dancing, in frenzied twists, bumps, and grinds.
So maybe every critic will criticize all that in the public eye is subject to criticism. But to close his article by claiming the revival doesn't acknowledge the huge change in national attitude is going too far. Everything about the revival, be it little or grand, acknowledged some change, whether it was technologized theatrics, or even the lack of controversy over the nude scene. Maybe the whole point of the revival was to simply celebrate that time and our ascent (or descent?) into something different; to show and see how far we've come. To suggest that one should spend his money on blotter acid instead of seeing the show if a 60's revival is what they wanted is just plain stupid. And to call Hair a high-tech, low IQ musical sounds way too angry to simply be a journalist writing a review. Come on, Tom. Let the sunshine in.