Peace Out; Rage and Love In

The Hippies have left the building. On Sunday, June 27, the Tony-winning revival of Hair: The American Tribal Love Rock Musical played its final performance at the Al Hirschfeld theatre.

Even though I had seen it many times before, I had seen it once with the new cast and was under whelmed. So as I sat looking at the moon on the scrim covering the stage for a 13th and final time on Sunday, I was surprised at how overwhelmed I was and how much I cried – throughout the whole show. I guess it wasn’t until I was there – with all the other Hippies – that it sunk in that the show was closing. That it wouldn’t be there anymore. It also sunk in that I connected deeply to the material, not just the original revival cast (which included Gavin Creel, Kacie Sheik and Bryce Ryness), as I thought after seeing the replacement cast for the first time.

I always felt safe in the Hirschfeld; I didn’t feel judged; and I always connected to the themes in Hair: Standing up for what you believe in and being yourself. (“Kids, be free. Be whoever you are, do whatever you want to do. Just as long as you don’t hurt anybody!”) I believe in peace and equality and justice and open mindedness. And Hair celebrates these human qualities. Hair will be missed on Broadway, but it continues to grow: It’s still playing in London (until early September) and a national tour launches in DC this October. 

Upon further reflection, I find this thought that crossed my mind after the final bow to be telling: Peace out; rage and love in. (“Rage and love” is a theme of American Idiot and is sung in different songs throughout the show, including "Jesus of Suburbia": “I’m the son of rage and love…”) This revival of Hair began as a concert in 2007 and turned into a fully staged show in the summer of 2008, when hope and change abounded in the midst of a national election, one in which we eventually elected Barack Obama, President of the United States of Love. And on the strength of that sweeping, grassroots movement and on the heels of Obama’s inauguration, Hair opened on Broadway in March 2009.

But now we, as a country, are somewhere else. We’ve become disenchanted with The One. The country’s collective mantra is no longer, “Yes we can.” Rather, it’s “Yes we cane.” Sure, that’s a Sue Sylvester bon mot, but it speaks to the current divisive, derisive and combative environment in which we live in 2010. Both Hair and American Idiot capture moments in the zeitgeist. As much as I love Hair, its moment in our world has passed (for now, anyway). The moment now belongs to American Idiot, which you know, dear readers, I love with a huge heart-grenade heart. So while the love and peace message of Hair isn’t needed any less, the more realistic message of American Idiot – of rage and love, of healthy skepticism, of anger toward those who’ve betrayed us – is needed more. The Age of Aquarius has set and that of the underbelly dawns, full of rage + love, and Idiots who rock your soul.


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