The Age Of Aquarius: Revisited

Last week, I received a most exciting invitation to come to Los Angeles and be a part of the red carpet grand opening of HAIR at the historic Pantages Theatre. This would be a chance to not only see the new version of the show I was a part of in the 60’s and 70’s but to reconnect with old friends and tribe members.

The Pantages had a brilliant idea to make the original cast part of the excitement of its grand opening, and many as of us, did make it. Our beloved producer, Michael Butler, arrived with Ben Vereen, which made it even more special. After all the screams and hugs outside while the papparazzi were setting up, we gathered for some group shots.

Other celebs who made the opening were Jason Alexander, Lorenzo Lamas, John Savage, Marty Ingels and wife Shirley Jones, Melissa Manchester and many others.

I had been skeptical about seeing the show ever since it returned to Broadway and London. I felt too close to it and was afraid of change. But, here I was and there was no turning back.

The first big change, it was so colorful! We were supposed to be street people but here they were, rather clean and in this surrealistic setting. Then I noticed it wasn’t easy to recognize the cast leads. Berger was not crazy and Sheila was just another cast member until I realized she was Sheila! The same problem with Hud, his character was bigger, broader in the original production. Think “Ben Vereen!!!

Steel Burkhardt, the actor who plays Berger, did what he was directed to do. I believe the the director was trying to make this her own. Diane Paulus is the director of this production. When we did the show it had more choreography also. These tribe members seemed to jump up and down a lot.

However, the important elements of the script were kept alive. the war, and all the important statements we tried to make were there. just in color!! the script was cut and the tempos were rushed. It most was apparent when Claude sings “Where Do I Go” A very emotional song, I used to cry eight times a week, but I did not shed a tear Thursday night. the cast failed to move me.

I would still tell you to see it, Gerry Ragni and Jim Rado‘s dream lives on in this show and it must be told, no matter how many different ways. I was Chrissy, I was Jeannie and I was a tribe member.

I witnessed brilliance in Teddy Neeley, Jerry Combs, Red Shephard, Tata Vega, Delores Hall, Ben Vereen, and all the others great talent in the Age of Aquarius. I am so lucky to have been part of history and now 40 years later to watch a new generation of actors live the dream. Don’t miss this important work of art, it still matters, now, more than ever.

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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