Before revolutionizing Broadway, Hair began its journey to the Great White Way during a limited engagement at the Shakespeare Festival's Public Theatre. This incipient production features notable discrepancies in the company and story line. Subsequently, the Hair [Original 1967 Off-Broadway Cast] was issued nearly a year before the more familiar Hair [Original Broadway Cast] [RCA] (1968). One primary discrepancy is Walker Daniels' portrayal of Claude, as opposed to James Rado's, who would inherit the part. That role would take a much different direction as the character was written not only as a space alien (no lie!) who aspires to be a cinematic director, but his initial love interest is Sheila. Musically, while the primary score remains similar, there are a few interesting substitutions and modifications. These include the alternate ending of "Exanaplanetooch" and "Climax," which were cut altogether. There are likewise lyrical variations on the opener "Ain't Got No" and "Hare Krishna." However, the material that remained is at times markedly dissimilar. Ragni's vocals in particular are worth mentioning as -- whether by design or not -- his untrained voice blares like a foghorn on "I Got Life," while his timbre (or lack thereof) makes "Going Down" practically unlistenable. A similar fate also befalls Sally Eaton's lead on "Air." They simply lack the accuracy and open-throated power that their Broadway counterparts would embody. Salvaging the endeavour is soloist Shelley Plimpton -- whose rendering of "Frank Mills" equals that of her latter efforts. Despite a few uneven contributions -- such as an annoyingly bogus British accent -- Walker Daniels pulls off "Where Do I Go" with considerable aplomb. Enthusiasts of the play, as well as listeners curious in the development of the musical from its genesis to eventual 1,700-plus performance run at the Biltmore Theater, are encouraged to compare and contrast for themselves. After nearly three decades out of print, the two-CD ^Hair [Broadway Deluxe Collector's Edition] [Original Broadway Cast] [RCA] (2003) houses both the on and Off-Broadway Original Cast Recordings in a single package. Additional highlights are a few previously unearthed tunes that never made the stage and an audio interview with composer Galt McDermot, recorded specifically for this project in July 2003.
Share this page