Let It Fly in the Breeze…

Quote of the Day: I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy/Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty/Oily, greasy, fleecy/Shining, gleaming, streaming/Flaxen, waxen/Knotted, polka-dotted/Twisted, beaded, braided/Powdered, flowered, and confettied/ Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied!…” “Hair”

There’s a production of Hair running at the Delacorte Theater in Manhattan’s Central Park. And I haven’t gotten a chance to see it. And I’m pissed, because it’s one my favorite musicals and I haven’t seen a production of the celebrated “tribal love-rock musical” since the City Center Encores! production in 2001. But there’s hope! The show’s being extended–again!–until September 14, so hopefully your boy will be able to hum along with “The Flesh Failures” at least once before it closes…
So, in honor of this raved-about production, I’d thought I’d share some music from the film version of Hair, which came out in 1979 and didn’t exactly set the world on fire like the original Off Broadway and Broadway productions did back in ’67 and ’68. That didn’t matter to me (and some other die-hard fans of the flick). Sure, the narrative arc that playwright Michael Weller’s screenplay imposed onto the shenanigans seemed a little forced at times. And sure, the direction of the great Milos Forman seemed to lack a certain, well, rock-and-roll rhythm. And some of the big set pieces–staging “Where Did I Go” on the streets of NYC and “I Got Life” at the bourgeois party, for example–sorta stumble when they should strut and soar. But there’s still some beautiful visual stuff in the movie, like the pastoral opening shots of middle America that open it and the heartbreaking militaristic moments leading to the finale. 
And then there’s the singing. Boy, is there some good singing, two scenes in particular:

Ren Woods performs “Age of Aquarius”: the arrangement’s a little more slick gospel-r&b than the stage version’s hippie-acoustic acid rock, but it works. The swirling camera work draws you in, and the Twyla Tharp choreography is quirky and exciting–even if it doesn’t always feel era-specific hippie-ish enough at times. This might be my favorite opening to any movie musical.

“Easy to Be Hard” sung by Cheryl Barnes, who reportedly was a hotel maid with no agent when she auditioned for the movie. Her rendition is a bit different from Lynn Kellogg’s more restrained version from the stage original and the radio hit by Three Dog Night. I think of Barnes’ version as the definitive one. There’s some scene stuff before the music starts but it’s good context for the song…and oh yeh, check out the little boy’s expression at the 5:03 point of the video. Priceless…That’s why you hire Milos Forman, for moments like that one…


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Filed under flicks, music

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