SOME HAVE HAIR PRESENTS SOME HAVE HAIR: THE MAKING OF
Some Have Hair
at the Roxy
Comedy groups are the social critics of our time, laying waste to the sacred icons of our culture with gleeful abandon. But there is one segment of society that has been kept relatively safe from the snickering glances, a holy sect that is safe from ridicule: the Theater. But the comedy outfit Some Have Hair has apparently gotten so fed up with what they see in their own community that they have turned their eye toward that rarely abused sanctuary in Some Have Hair Presents Some Have Hair: The Making Of.
Some Have Hair is a scathing look at the whole theatrical community, but it focuses most particularly on Michael Butler's hit production of Hair, which ran at the Vic Theatre earlier this season. While they don't come right out and say that's what they're doing, the names have barely been changed to protect the innocent. Most of the events in this satire are either fictitious or blatant embellishment, but there are a lot of striking similarities.
Some Have Hair begins with a producer who begs for money to fulfill his dream: to bring back the hit classic of the 60s Some Have Hair (which features, among other things, the hit song, "The Age of Aquariums"). For this producer the 60s represent the only time that he ever believed in something, and he feels that the time is right to try and recapture that feeling. The revival producer is not meant to be the original Broadway producer (like Butler), but he does fly in the original director. From there we see all the trials and tribulations of putting the show together, from casting to the ultimate fame, fortune, and international celebrity status of the performers--funny, I was just reading last month about Chicago's Hair going on a world tour. And I'm sure I saw a picture from it earlier this year in Time magazine.
The members of Some Have Hair have their roots in the improv scene, and their original monthly shows have consisted of comedy revues. This is their first attempt at using an all-encompassing theme and plot line. Perhaps because of this background, Some Have Hair is all done in very short, blackout scenes. Much of the humor consists of in-jokes, either about Hair and the surrounding theater scene (another group is putting up a revival of the 70s punk hit Rocky while Some Have Hair is rehearsing, much as the Rocky Horror Picture Show was mounted at the Organic around the same time that Hair went up at the Vic), 60s and 70s references (eight-track tapes, the gas crunch), or strange theater rehearsal techniques and truths about actors (every monologue concludes with the phrase "But what I really want to do is direct").
I must admit, I enjoyed many of the references. But as a person who grew up in the 60s and 70s and who now works in theater in Chicago, I was probably the ideal audience member, and one of a fairly select few who have the required inside dirt to appreciate the jokes.
But theatergoers who felt violated by the overcommercialized triteness of Chicago's Hair can get a kick out of it too. What bothered the comedy group the most about that extravaganza seems to be the trivialization of the concerns of an important era. "You don't understand what it's all about!" the producer is constantly shouting at the self-centered young cast. One of the actors responds defensively that he does: "It's about drugs, long hair, good music, paisley." In the last musical number the cast sings: "We don't have a cause so we go back in time."
The idea of a play that points a wagging finger at its own community is both fascinating and gutsy, even if it's not completely original. The troupe Some Have Hair (Gwyn Ashley, Doreen Calderon, Jeff Lukas, Jeff Siegel), who produced, wrote, directed, and performed in Some Have Hair, deserve to be commended. Unfortunately the show itself is neither focused nor polished. The scenes in it are hit-or-miss, some making more sense than others. The piece hovers between being a play and a comedy revue, and no one seems to have taken the time to bother to make it one or the other. More important, the group lacks the satiric wit to pull it off as tongue-in-cheek documentary. They come off as a group of earnest hardworking kids who want to put on a good show.
Still, Some Have Hair serves as an unusual kind of warning to the theater community: Beware, good reviews or not, your work had better be up to snuff; next time, it could be you.