One is a song worm of “Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In.” Another is the vague memory of how its brief nude scene, at the end of Act I, caused a major controversy way back when the show first premiered off-Broadway in 1967.
Despite—or because of—the nudie controversy, the show went on to become a smash Broadway hit, the first bona fide rock musical, and a signature work in the anti-Vietnam War movement.
Those feisty, creative talents at Willows--truly one of the East Bay’s performing arts treasures—are going go for it. Yeah, they’ll be letting actors strip for performances of the show, which runs through September 27. The company, in “keeping with the spirit of the original show,” will also keep the script’s “mature language.”
Could this be another sign that the East Bay suburbs are becoming more culturally sophisticated? That its arts organizations continue to push to produce more mature, adult, and difficult works? My goodness, with this free and open depiction of the human body in Willows' Hair, could we becoming more like San Francisco where, last fall, I saw an actress go topless in the hit musical Spring Awakening, or like Berkeley, where I saw a topless Juliet in a Mark Morris production of the ballet Romeo and Juliet at Cal Performances.
Actually, I recall that an actress briefly went topless in a production at the Lesher Center a few years back.
But if we’re talking culture and sophistication, is Hair still relevant? Maybe. And in ways more daring than having actors strip on its Concord stage, Willows is putting on a show about a time of “emotional and political upheaval” in the United States. Sound irrelevant? That upheaval included growing anger about an unpopular war in which young Americans were dying in a faraway place for questionable reasons. Still sound irrelevant?
Not having seen this Willows production of Hair, I can’t say how much the company is pushing the political, anti-war message of the original show. It’s a good bet, though, that Willows will deliver a first-rate production.
If you want to see Hair, visit the Willows website or call the box office at (925) 798-1300.