Monday, September 15, 2008


All photos from the Internet

A Broadway-bound production of the 40th Anniversary of the “The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” HAIR has been playing at Joe's Pub in the Park at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park this summer.. The tickets are free, but it is not that simple. But first, a bit of history:

My first memory of the music from HAIR is my older brother coming home, and telling me he had heard this song on some soundtrack at his friend’s house that said, “Oh, say can you see my eyes / Then my hair’s too short,” which he found hilarious. ASoon after that, I was babysitting some “cousins” (friends of my parents kinda thing), and that family had the HAIR Broadway soundtrack. I started listening it to it there (my other musical memory of them is of CCR’s “Bad Moon”). Eventually, of course, I got my own copy of the album, and loved its anti-establishment message (which would be enforced – though transformed – a few short years later by the Ramones, etc.). I would learn that album backwards and forward.

The songs were everywhere, with covers by some top artists like Fifth Dimension (“Aquarius”/”Let the Sun Shine In”), Oliver (“Good Morning Starshine”), and Three Dog Night (“Easy to be Hard”). Through it all, though, I liked the original soundtrack better.

The closest I came to seeing it live was a revival at Queens College while I attended, but of course, it was severely edited (taking out most of the cursing and of course all of the nudity). And the movie was okay, but they totally screwed with the theme by actually putting in a plot, rather than it being sort of freeform and stream of consciousness. I will add, though, Cheryl Barnes’ version of “Easy to Be Hard” in the film is possibly the best-recorded version of it I have heard.

Now there is the production at the Delacorte Theater. My pal Alan Abramowitz, his nephew Alexander, and I decided to see the play. We know we have to go early to get on line. Alan says he’ll be there at 7 AM. Alex says he’s going to be there earlier. I tell Alan I plan to be there around 10 AM to join them in line. I’d just left my job, and wasn’t really in the mood to get out of bed any earlier yet.

When I actually do get to the park around 9 AM, the line was ridiculously long. I started at the beginning, and walked and walked, looking for them, and eventually found them around what is known as “the third fence.” In other words, odds are we would be too far on the line to get tickets, but maybe… People were in blankets, sleeping bags, and even brought along practically entire living room sets, and I was thinking that all the space that was taken by accoutrement could mean less people in front of us than it seemed.

It was the first time I had met Alex, so the three of us hung around on the line and had fun talking. At 12:45, members of the theater organization announced to the line that we should pack up, as the line was going to start moving. We were no more than 100 yards from the box office when they told us it was sold out, including the standby tickets. So we walked to the train and went home.

Alan and Alexander tried again a week or so later, and managed to get in. Alan raved about how good it was.

A few weeks after that, Alan and I decided to try again in September, during the last week of the production. Since he enjoyed it so much he wanted to see it again.

The night before we were to try one more time, I went out to an art show at the Avenue A Japanese Restaurant Gallery. It is one of those holes in the wall places with expensive food, but this exhibition has representations by 45 artists, including the reason I went, which was some photographs by Alyssa Tanchajja (this is her first public show), one of the people I had met at the Punk Temple and still keep in touch with, though loosely. I walked in and saw that there were many media and styles, such as paintings and photos. As I walked around I noticed a series of three photos that were, well, pedestrian and boring. Thankfully, they were not hers. When I finally did locate her two selections, they proved to be quite impressive, and I was not the only one to think so, because one had already sold the first night. I’m very proud of her. Check out the show (which runs through October), and her Website, It was also good seeing her again (the previous time was at Monty Love’s last performance).

The next morning, I was out the door at 6:15 AM, and got to Central Park at 7:30. Alan was already there. In fact, at the start we were almost in the exact spot last time when we were told that it was sold out. In other words, we were pretty much a shoe-in. Finally, after some announcements (by some guy who sounded like the person on “Movie-Phone” and looked like a young Cary Ewels) about how if the weather is inclement one cannot use an umbrella in the open-air theater, and that so far only 2 performances have EVER been cancelled at the Delacorte, we got our tickets (I had Entrance 4, Section N, Row N, seat 304).

After walking to Broadway for a quick and dirty lunch, Alan and I went to our respective homes, since after eating it was 2:00 PM, and the show didn’t start until 8:00 PM. On the way home, there was a sick passenger in the next car over, so the train was delayed. And that’s after a more-often-as-time-goes-by 20-minute wait for my train, so I got home just as it was starting to drizzle.

At 5:00 PM, I was on my way, and the drizzle was a bit harder. Another nearly 20-minute wait for my train, and I was back heading uptown. Chug-chug-chug (wait for the N train to pass in front), chug-chug-chug (wait for the B train to get on the bridge first), chug-chug-chug (wait and switch at 59 Street). Though umbrellas aren’t allowed in the theater, there is still the wait outside of it, so I brought one along.

I stood under an awning with many others, trying to avoid the pigeons that were perched just above our heads. Alan showed up shortly after. They were to let us in at 7:40, and the performance to start around 8:00. The rain is slowing down significantly, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed.

We’re waiting, and waiting. 7:40 passes. 8:00 passes. 8:30 passes. My feet are starting to hurt. Around 8:45 or so, they make the announcement that the performance is cancelled, our tickets are worthless (i.e., if we want to see the show, we have to wait in the morning line again), and there is going to be something special for us. I turn to Alan and say, “I bet the cast comes out and does ‘Aquarius’.” Sure enough they do, but way by Gate 1 rather than in the center, and we can NOT see anything; we can barely hear it. Woo-hoo.

With that, we trudge toward the subway. The way is packed with disappointed people, so we know getting on the subway by the park will be a horror show of crowds, so we walk over to Broadway in the light rain, up to 86 Street (hoping to find someplace inexpensive to eat, which there wasn’t), and then home.

The show’s run is now over as of this weekend at the Delacorte, so there really is no point in trying to get tickets again, and I for one do not want to waste another day. Alan says he is going to try to turn in his ticket to the Broadway Theater box office, hoping for a discount, but I’d be shocked if that happens. I just hope they don’t sic the dogs on him.

Hanging out with Alan was fun, as it usually is, but man, I could have done so much more with the day.

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