Director Milos Forman
Year 1979
Starring John Savage, Treat Williams, Beverly D'Angelo, Annie Golden, Donnie Dacus, Dorsey Wright, Cheryl Barnes, Nell Carter, Charlotte Rae, Ellen Foley, Melba Moore, Ronnie Dyson
Rating PG
Run Time 121min
Age Policy

18 and up; Children 6 and up will be allowed only with a parent guardian. No children under the age of 6 will be allowed.

More Info IMDb

See the film version of HAIR and then make a reservation to see the show at the Barn Theatre in Augusta: It runs August 5-17. Call (269) 731-4121 or visit http://www.barntheatre.com/ for more information!

We will be awarding prizes for the best 1960s outfits at our 1:30 p.m. screening on August 3. So tie-dye away -- and don't forget the love beads and peace-sign necklaces!

"When the moon is in the seventh house/And Jupiter aligns with Mars/Then peace will guide the planets/And love will steer the stars..."

Controversial, captivating, shocking, electrifying, scandalous, scintillating: HAIR was called all sorts of things when it made its debut Off-Broadway in 1967 (a young Diane Keaton was part of the cast, while Meat Loaf, Jennifer Warnes and Ben Vereen appeared in early West Coast productions and Tim Curry, Melba Moore and Richard O'Brien starred in the London version). With its multi-racial cast, "with-it" language, searing rock score, artful nudity and counter-cultural attitudes, the show defined its time so perfectly that even the "squares" and "Establishment" types who were lampooned in many of the musical's numbers still flocked to get tickets.

The score by James Rado and Gerome Ragni was inescapable in the late-1960s: Even The Fifth Dimension (the act that defined "supper-club soul" to many) was hip enough to record "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" and Three Dog Night's cover of "Easy To Be Hard" and The Cowsills' take on the show's title track also became enormous hits.

Bringing HAIR to cinemas took more than a decade. Director Milos Forman, an early fan of the show, reportedly met with Ragni and Rado shortly after HAIR opened to discuss making it into a movie; Ragni and Rado's tarot card reader advised them the planets were not in their favor and the deal fell apart.

The process eventually also took a lot of re-imagining. The stage show is essentially a collection of anecdotes, moments, comic bits and snapshots with very little in the way of actual plot.  Playwright Michael Weller (MOONCHILDREN, LOOSE ENDS) was brought in to turn Rado and Ragni's shaggy script into a cohesive screenplay, with stronger characters, a tighter structure and a clearer dramatic arc. It's commonplace for a movie to "open up" a play, but HAIR turns the original piece inside out, dropping key songs, building up backstories and giving the material an entirely new framework.

Claude (John Savage) is an Oklahoma farm boy who comes to New York for one day of sight-seeing before he's inducted into the Army. Passing through Central Park, he encounters a band of free spirits led by Berger (Treat Williams), who good-naturedly teases Claude into joining the tribe. Claude is mesmerized by a beautiful debutante, Sheila (Beverly D'Angelo), and Berger assists him in pursuing her, even going so far as to crash one of her high society parties (resulting in Williams' show-stopping rendition of "I Got Life"). Before long, everyone will have to face the realities of daily life: Hud (Dorsey Wright) must deal with his abandoned fiancee (Cheryl Barnes, who sings the living daylights out of "Easy To Be Hard"), pregnant Jeannie (Annie Golden) clings to her sunny ideas about "free love" and Claude and Berger make life-changing decisions in the shadow of the war.

The performances are wonderful across the board, and choreographer Twyla Tharp's mix of modern dance and let-it-all-hang-out friskiness gives the numbers exactly the right tone. Sure, Treat Williams and Beverly D'Angelo went on to big things, but it's astonishing how many of the stars of HAIR disappeared after the movie was released. Barnes, a former hotel maid who had auditioned for the film on a whim, flirted with a singing career and then dropped out of sight; Golden made sporadic appearances on the music scene and in films, but has only recently returned to the spotlight with her role in Netflix's ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK; Don Dacus, who played Woof, joined the band Chicago around the time HAIR came out, then left the band shortly afterward.

Ragni and Rado detested what Weller created and they harshly criticized the film. Critics and audiences were more receptive: Although HAIR did only so-so business in 1979 (a dreadful marketing campaign and generic-looking ads probably scared away many potential ticket-buyers), its reputation has blossomed in the 35 years since. It marks one of the very few times a film version took enormous liberties with a stage success and (Ragni and Rado excepted) was praised for doing so. While the score of HAIR retains its vitality and gusto, Forman gives the story the sort of power and poignancy that the original play never had. (James Sanford) 

 

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