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Saying Farewell to Hair Across the Atlantic Sea

Passing Time Before Hair at the Gielgud.

When we finally booked our trip to London—the one we’d been talking about for longer than I can remember—I knew that my itinerary would have to include a pilgrimage to the Gielgud Theater for a performance of Hair. To be honest, for me, that notched a higher spot on the list than just about anything, including a daytrip to Stonehenge.

Not long after 10:30 am on Thursday morning I left the box office, big fat ticket in hand, hoping and praying for all kinds of wonderful, crazy things to happen in that theater. After all, I’d promised to report back to you, our readers, on all kinds of shenanigans. Frankly, I had a good feeling about this. I already knew the show was going to be epic. I had known that ever since my random run-in with Will Swenson and Audra McDonald at Shakspeare’s Globe Theater earlier in the week (“Is that Berger?” my friend had asked, spotting him in his front row seat.). Even on the other side of the pond I was running into those fools in unexpected places. This was a good sign.

And let me tell you, the show didn’t disappoint. Shenanigans abounded. A man in the front row reached up under Will’s loincloth to make contact with a really, uh… sensitive region and Darius dove over two women to motorboat me during “Ain’t Got No” and Gavin had to run off stage to cough a lot or vomit or something during “Hair,” forcing Steel to attempt to cover Claude’s part for the remainder of the song. And then there were the performances—Caissie’s softer, more modulated, even more powerful “Easy to be Hard,” Gavin just singing the shit out of every note that came his way—better and more exciting than I’d seen in so, so long.

It was wonderful. But after the show I was left with… quiet sadness.

This was the last thing I had expected. I had expected to leave buzzing with things to write about, fairly overflowing with tales to tell my friends that night. What I ended up with was a farewell.

As I left the Gielgud I knew, in my bones, that no matter how many opportunities I might have to catch a performance of Hair again, I had just seen my final show. A day before the West End production’s closing was announced, weeks before its Broadway predecessor would finally fold, Hair‘s run in my heart ended.

It wasn’t the show—Gavin’s notes were no less staggering, the cast’s commitment no less moving, the content no less emotional—no, it was me. Something in me had changed. Hair no longer occupied the same central space in the landscape of my life. It had served its purpose, held me up when I needed it, and now I could let it go. I already had let it go.

I left the theater sad. They very same sad I’d been once, years ago, when I saw RENT again after a six year hiatus and realized it was no longer mine. Still, I’m glad I never went to Stonehenge. I’m glad I made my pilgrimage to the Gielgud and saw that show, that unbelievable cast, one last time. There, across the Atlantic Sea, not so far from Manchester England, England, I bid Hair farewell. I found my closure. I will probably always miss this production, always love this show. But I was fortunate enough to give it a really special send-off in my heart and in my life. I hope you all get the very same chance before the curtain goes down on that oriental carpeted stage its final time.

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