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Peace Out, Hair

Aw, Hair and Its Homegrown-Seeming Marketing

So, it’s done. Diane Paulus’s Tony-winning revival of Hair played its final performance on Broadway last night.

And that’s cool.

I mean, it is. It’s not sad or horrible or even unexpected. That sucker had been running on fumes for months, and the downward swing in both interest and ticket sales was clear: Its entire original cast left the country (strike 1). The arrival of its replacement cast happened absolutely without fanfare or even a proper press night (strike 2). Its clearly stunt-cast replacement stars weren’t featured in any of the marketing until a month before the show closed.

Yer out, Hair. Pack up your incense and your finger cymbals and get your uncompelling selves out of the Hirschfeld, stat.

Now, I say this as someone who adored this production of Hair, who slept on the sidewalk outside the Public for its Central Park incarnation, and who saw the Broadway staging a ton of times. It was good, bold, moving theater—triply impressive when you consider what a snaggly sow’s ear Diane Paulus had to work with in the first place. (Great songs, yeah, but ouch… that book.) The other stuff—the original cast’s incredible commitment to social causes, the fact that Gavin Creel had charisma to burn onstage and off, the chaotic open casting call, the candid-camera dance parties—was fun icing on the cake.

But everything ends, and more, this show’s end was a kind of a no-brainer. The best news? The national tour will allow all the kids across America who obsess over this show, who find comfort in its message and adore its cast, to see it in person. That’s not so bad. The tour will spread all that love around the world indeed—or at least all the way to Phoenix. And isn’t that the whole point of Hair in the first place—to shine bright in as many places as possible? That sounds pretty good to me—and a lot more interesting than playing to an empty balcony on 45th Street.

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