East Penn Press

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Spotlight On: The dawning of new songs in 'Hair'

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 by ELIZABETH OUELLETTE Special to The Press in Focus

The production of "Hair" being presented at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30, State Theatre for the Arts, 453 Northampton St., Easton," will "let the sun shine in" on two new songs.

The show's director Diane Paulus explained in a recent interview that this version of "Hair," based on the 2009 Broadway production which received a musical revival Tony, is somewhat different than previous ones:

"The book has been updated by one of the co-creators, James Rado, and this particular production features two songs that are really unique.

"One is called 'Xanaplanetooch,' which was cut in the off-Broadway tryouts in the late 1960's and has never been seen in a major revival.

"The other is called 'Dead End,' which is rarely performed.

"The other aspect that makes this production unique is that all the actors play instruments on stage throughout the show. The two leads, Claude and Berger, play lead guitar."

The cast itself is a high point of the production, says Paulus. Casting took place in Toronto, New York and Chicago.

"We were looking not just for people who could sing, dance and act, but for people who could sing, dance, act and play an instrument," she says.

"It is really difficult to find someone who can do all those things, and as a result, I think we've put together one of the most exciting casts in a long time."

Paulus is also proud of the production's choreography:

"The choreography done by Stephanie Ramphos-Galpern is a hybrid of various dance forms. The dance movements were inspired by tribal folk, Native American and Asian dances, blended together."

Paulus says there's a reason why theater-goers still flock to a musical with a backdrop of 1960's youth culture. The themes of political unrest and youthful rebellion strike a chord with audiences of different ages, according to Paulus:

"There's a spirit of defiance that the show captures that was relevant in the late 1960's and continues to be relevant today.

"The spirit of youth and the unbelievable music are the reasons why it endures."

Hit songs from the musical, including "Aquarius," "Good Morning, Star-shine," "Easy To Be Hard" and "Let the Sun Shine In," are still spellbinding in their musicality and meaning.

"Hair" is for mature audiences and features brief nudity.