On Sunday, April 29th, Galt MacDermot, the Grammy Award-winning composer of HAIR, joined the Wagner College Theatre cast of the musical in a celebration of their shared fifty-year anniversary.
HAIR, the “American Tribal Love-Rock Musical,” opened on Broadway at the Biltmore Theatre on April 29, 1968. With music by Mr. MacDermot and book and lyrics by co-stars Gerome Ragni and James Rado, the groundbreaking musical ran for over four years, inspiring countless subsequent productions worldwide.
Wagner College, a private national liberal arts college on Staten Island, founded its theatre program that very same year. To celebrate its 50th Anniversary, Wagner College Theatre presented HAIR as the fourth and final production of its 2017-2018 season. In what Theatre and Speech Department Chair Felicia Ruff calls a “karmic accident”, the show’s closing performance coincided – to the day – with the anniversary of HAIR’s Broadway debut. “I think the universe was at play here,” says Ruff, “bringing peace, love, understanding and Galt MacDermot to our community.”
Mr. MacDermot, aged 89, attended yesterday’s closing performance with his wife and children. Born in Montreal, Canada, Mr. MacDermot moved to New York in 1964 and has resided on Staten Island ever since.
The show’s cast members, many of whose grandparents lived through the hippie experience, were thrilled to have the composer and other members of his generation in attendance. “All these people in the audience were young people when HAIR came out,” says senior Sophia Tzougros, who plays Sheila. “They’re the ones who lost friends in Vietnam; they’re the ones who were struggling to get out from their 1950s parents. And I get all choked up and emotional, because they’re as connected to the show as we are. How special it is that we got to do it for them.”
The actors agreed that, fifty years after its Broadway debut, HAIR remains as relevant as ever. “If there’s one word in HAIR that sticks out,” says junior Kevin Atwater, who plays Claude, “it’s love. It’s still relevant today— love! Follow your own path. If you believe in something, you should fight for it. That’s in this show and that’s in this life.”
“I think this is a show that’ll never grow old,” adds junior John Drinkwater, who plays Berger. “HAIR is just a beautiful show. It’ll age like wine.”
Tams-Witmark proudly licensed HAIR to Wagner College Theatre for this production. For more information about licensing HAIR for your school or theatre, check out the Tams HAIR page.