Randy Bowser
Director of HAiR
at Pentacle Theatre

Salem, Oregon

Thoughts on directing The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical in the 21st Century

In my 37 years of constant activity in theatre as an actor, director, composer, and designer, HAiR is the most unique piece I have had the pleasure to be part of.

Like many other people now in our "middle age," the Original Broadway Cast album of HAiR was an important addition to the stack of records that was the soundtrack to life in the late 1960's. The quirky, somewhat mysterious but very compelling sounds of HAiR stood side by side in our orange crate record bins with the latter-day Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jefferson Airplane, Blood Sweat and Tears, Moby Grape, Quicksilver Messenger Service and many other oft-played discs. Sounds--the sounds were very imporant to us in those wild, intense, and wonderful days.

It wasn't until many years later that the context of all of HAiRs songs was clear to me. "Flesh Failures" was always something I would sing along with at the top of my lungs, but I didn't know back then in 1969 that it was sung by the spirit of a young man killed in Vietnam. "Abie Baby" was catchy and wickedly satirical---that was obvious enough, but I didn't know it was part of a complex hallucinatory scene in Act Two of the show. And so on. I knew the music, but not the show.

After years of knowing the music, now, after a full year of plunging myself into the project of directing HAiR, I can say I have never enjoyed meeting a show so much as this. I met the show, I ate, drank, slept, dreamt the show---and I now have a near and dear friend who will always be with me.

James Rado, Gerome Ragni, Galt MacDermot, with the production guidance of first Joseph Papp, and then Michael Butler, and with the artistic genius of Tom O'Horgan's stage direction, managed to bless the world in a very special way with this thing they created called HAiR. It may have been very much a product of its time, but now more than 30 years after its premiere, the world is re-discovering HAiR as the definitive theatrical statement on the most explosive decade of the last century.

Second page of Director Notes
Home for HAiR at Pentacle
Pentacle Home Page
PHOTO ALBUM of the production
Description of The Willamette Tribe production

2001 randybowser@webtv.net

Strands of HAiR