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The ultimate hippie musical toes the
line between timeless and outdated

Oriental Theatre
Chicago, IL
March 9, 2011
Hair Hair

Story by Andy Argyrakis
Publicity photos

When "Hair" first debuted Off-Broadway in 1967, it was just as revolutionary as it was controversial. Issues of draft dodging collided with the hippie movement at its prime, while a full cast frontal nudity scene sent antennas of conservative groups flying high. Over four decades later, the show's a lot less shocking considering society's desensitization, but nonetheless particularly poignant in certain places, while the soundtrack still sounds carefree and idealistic, even if some of the subject matter is dark and depressing.

The main element that keeps "Hair" current is its anti-war sentiments, and although the days of draft dodging are long gone, the emotional torment of receiving a letter forcing one to fight for freedom doesn't cut to the heart any less. Protests against authority are common across the storyline- from parents to the government- and in those respects, some things never change.

However, many of the characters' choices are pretty passé at this point, which despite accurately portraying the timeframe, will be harder for younger audiences to relate to. For instance, the idea of smoking pot during pregnancy is pretty much universally accepted as stupid, while the attitude of free love has since been wisely traded for safe sex.

What "Hair" lacks in current relevance, it makes up for in the fast paced nature of the unconventional performance. The cast often times roams the seating area, speaks directly to the audience, jumps on their chairs and even ends the show by singing "The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In)" a cappella as they exit through the aisles.

For an encore segment of the same song, everyone in the audience is invited on stage to sing and dance along, which considering the difficult ending of a solider being shipped off to Vietnam, serves as hopeful sendoff. With the world still embroiled in endless warfare, the pleas of "Hair" towards non-violence are still just as vital as they were back in the day, even with a less than perfect plotline that doesn't always stand the test of time.

"Hair" continues at Chicago's Oriental Theatre through March 20. For additional details, visit or

Hair Hair

Hair Hair

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