40 Years of “Hair” Cast Alums at West Fest

One Big Hairy Family

There are a few musicals that participation in really welcomes you into a national family of cast alums…for life. Back when I did West Side Story at Broadway By the Bay, I remember getting excited about The Official WSS Website, which had a comprehensive register for all productions and performers internationally. Well, that only scratched the surface…

I just had the pleasure of experiencing my first real taste of this larger sense of community thanks to West Fest, the 40th Anniversary celebration of Woodstock, a free concert in Golden Gate Park. Today, for the closing act on the West Stage, 23 members from different national casts of Hair performed “The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In)”, and “We Are the World”. Enjoy more event details and posters here.

West Fest Poster Favorites

Since Berger doesn’t sing any of the solo verses in “The Flesh Failures” in the stage version, I was especially moved to be offered some of Claude’s passionate opening lines here. And, in “We Are the World”, was slightly amused to get the solos sung by the indisputable King (and a recent media Queen) of weed, Willie Nelson and Dionne Warwick! (I did not attempt a Willie impersonation.) Well, long-story-short, we ended up singing both pieces as group numbers, due to a producer’s misjudgment (a kind understatement!). But, that’s what hippie life is all about, after all…COMMUNITY! We clasped hands, stood arm-in-arm, and sang as one, from our hearts. The audience cheered us on, and fervently sang along, showing their shared love for Hair, and for the unifying message behind our second song.

Our new tribe came in from as far as New York, and as close as the Inner Richmond, SF (me). It included original cast members from NY, LA, Chicago, and Seattle. What an inspiration! Here are portraits of participants Walter Michael Harris, THE Walter from the Original Broadway production (at the tender age of 16!), and David “Pappy” Hunt, as Hud, from the same production.

Walter Michael Harris & David "Pappy" Hunt

And, here is Susan Morse (left) singing “Black Boys”, in Circus Magazine, ’69.

"Black Boys"

Hippie Life in Golden Gate Park

Never have I seen such a smorgasbord of homemade brownies, baklava, and other baked goods ;-), all around Speedway Meadows. Jefferson Starship offered up a great set midday. Their current lead singer, Cathy Richardson has CRAZY chops! I was mighty impressed. (Initially, when I first rounded the corner and realized it was J.S. performing, I thought, Grace must have gotten some serious vocal rest!)

It was an honor to take part in this celebration of both Woodstock and Hair. Little did I know my own Berger costume would get more mileage so soon. And, I had a hell of a good time hangin’ with our lovely and insanely talented cast — at rehearsal, the event booth, backstage (in the performer kasbah tent), and onstage. We hung our tribe photos and exchanged stories at the booth. I look forward to our next gathering or gig. Special thanks must go to Pappy, Walter, Jenny, Barbara, Kevin, Rana, and Tadg!

The stars seemed to align yet again when Walter Harris shared that his brother George was Hibiscus, the founder of The Cockettes. I was especially thrilled to discover this, since I’m enamored with the Thrillpeddler’s current production of The Cockette’s Pearls Over Shanghai, which my friends Valentine and Leanne Borghesi are in (Leanne also served as Associate Director). George Harris “was also the young man in the turtleneck sweater in the famous picture of the anti-war protester putting flowers into the gun barrels of the MPs during the October 21, 1967 march on the Pentagon.” (Wikipedia)  This act must have inspired the same gesture, by Claude, in the current Broadway production.

Let the sunshine in!

HAIR West Fest, 2009 Cast:

Walter Michael Harris (Music Director): Original Walter (“What a Piece of Work is Man”, Original Broadway Recording), Biltmore Theatre, NY, ‘68
Jenny Lee Ho (Choreographer): Crissy, Original SF, Geary & Orpheum Theatres, ‘69-‘70; National Dance Director, ‘70-‘71
David “Pappy” Hunt (Organizer): Hud, Original Broadway, ‘69; Original LA, ‘68
Tabitha Gaffney: Tribe (Koya Huye), Mountain Play, Mt. Tam, CA, ‘07
Tadg Galleran: “Don’t Put It Down”, Original Broadway; Original LA, ‘69-‘71
Janis Jobs: Jeanie, Miami, ‘70; Tribe, Seattle, ‘70
Rana Kangas-Kent (Hospitality): Jeanie (Koya Huye Tribe), Mountain Play, Mt. Tam, CA, ‘07
Jessica Marciel: Crissy (Jeanie understudy), Original LA, ‘69-‘71
Kevin Mason (Web Designer & Photographer): Woof, Margaret Mead, Walter, (Claude understudy), Original Seattle & Miami, ‘69, and Original Tour, ‘70; Over 500 performances!
Barbara Moore (Coordinator): NY Workshop (“Light Up Cross” Creator), ‘66; Original LA, ‘68-‘69
Susan Morse:
Sheila (+“Electric Blues”), Original LA, ‘69; Tribe,
Original Broadway, ‘69; “disinHAIRited” Cast Recording, ‘69
Alariza Nevarez
: [
Ozzy Osbourne, in “Zombies! The Musical”, Exit Theater, SF, current]
Richard Osorio:
General Manager, Original Broadway, ‘68; Original LA, ‘68; Las Vegas, ‘69; Tours
Helen Pollock:
Crissy, Original Chicago, ‘69, and Original LA
John Quinn: Tribe (Koya Huye), Mountain Play, Mt. Tam, CA, ‘07
Cara Robin: Original Broadway Production Coordinator, and Second Casting Director,
‘68; Tribe, Original SF & Boston, ‘68-‘69; disinHAIRited” Cast Recording, ‘69
Maggie Velasquez: “White Boys” (Muwekma Tribe), Stagelight Productions, San Jose, ‘07
Zia Wesley: Tribe, Original SF, ‘69; Original LA, ‘70 (stage name: Rhoda Seven)
Yvette Williams: Tribe, Original Chicago, ‘71; Crissy, Tour;
Bus ‘n Truck, LA, ‘72-‘73
Ariane Wolfe: Tribe (unofficial), Original SF, ‘69; Original LA, ‘70
Michelle Wynn: Sheila (Muwekma Tribe), Stagelight Productions, San Jose, ‘07
Paul Ziller: Berger (Ramaytush Tribe), ACLO, Alameda, CA, ‘09

(Cast, if you have any edits to this list, feel free to email me, or post in “Leave a Comment”!)

16 comments so far

  1. Ariane on

    Yay – thanks for blogging this! What an experience! I’m hoping to find or create a HAIR Alumni group on FaceBook so please get ahold of me there! (and BTW – you have a lovely voice)

  2. Woodstock on

    Great coverage! West Fest was a blast, so many nice people having a good time and, yes, Jefferson Starship did rock the park.

  3. Rana on

    Awesome blog Paul. You’re the bomb-diggity baby.

  4. Barbara Moore on

    Paul this is fantastic – thanks to you and Kevin Mason we are sending such a fine collective message

  5. jumping clapping man on

    It was my pleasure Barbara. I’m so glad you enjoyed my posting. Take care!

  6. jumping clapping man on

    Spanx babe! And, you’re the mamba-jamba-grooviest!

  7. Jenny Lee Ho on

    Thanks, Paul. You are talented and kind. I enjoyed working with you immensely. Peace, love and happiness!

  8. Susan Morse on

    Thank you for this wonderful blog! It was great to have the opportunity to perform & hang out with you!
    Blessings and much love

  9. David Papi Hunt on

    Dear tribal members:

    Its Papi and sorry it took me so long to reply to all of you but after the
    events of West fest I had to take a break and re-group. I wanted to express to
    all of you know I’m very proud of what we accomplished during our performance at
    West fest, and in the words of our silver Indian “It sounds like we had a great
    success in overcoming adversity”. This is do in part to our genius musical
    director Walter Michael who had prepared us for such adversity, as a tribe our
    message to the people. All of you put your time, money into making our event a
    success and from the response I received from the audience once we left the
    stage many “Hoorays” for what we did and that was as good as it gets. We were
    as professional people who looked adversity in the face and overcome, I so proud
    of all of you. Boots and 2b1 records sold the appearance of “Hair” and its
    people short, But our audience felt us and we continued on. I’m very proud of
    our Hair family. To re-connect with many that I hadn’t seen in 40 years such as
    Yvette Williams-Cain from the Mercury tribe.

    To Kevin, Barbara all I can say is we tried, and thank you so much on helping
    make all of this happen. I was bummed out, but after speaking with Mark and
    Marcie who were the lighting people, I felt better, but still was stressed till
    I got back home. I’m better and the next time we see each other and I hope that
    is soon, we will have the stories and that’s what life is about, the stories.
    I love all of you and thank you for making this event such a success, We
    couldn’t have done it without you.

    Love all of you

    David Hunt/Papi

  10. David Papi Hunt on

    Thank you so much Paul, this is not the end, and this makes me feel so good inside and I hope all of us.

  11. Cara Roobin on

    How wonderful of you to create this, Paul! We ARE the world, our very special world indeed. I loved meeting all of you and seeing my old HAiR friends again. It goes on and on doesn’t it.

    Funny aside re Jefferson Starship: when Richard and I were trying to find the booth for rehearsal(no one in the backstage area had a clue,) one of the staff gave us a lift to the booth area in the VIP cart, with David Freiberg (Airplane) and the Starship drummer – didn’t get his name. Synchronicity!

  12. MIZ on

    10/31

    Happy Halloween to the head of the tribe, Berger!!!

    What a great ‘piece’ on your ‘Hair’ gathering in Golden Gate Park recently.

    Congratulations to you all, A Devoted Fan

  13. Steve Wright on

    I have shared this thought, but want to put it out again to you and the rest of the cast of Hair; Circumstances allowed for the soul of the tribe and the times to truly come out on stage and touch 70000+ that day. It was beautiful and I feel privileged to be allowed a part of this happening and in sharing time with you all. I am still floating on the love.

  14. Walter Michael Harris on

    Hi everyone – reading all these posts reminds me of what a wonderful experience it was to collaborate with all of you at West Fest. Something happened above and beyond what we rehearsed – a powerful intention went out to the universe. Despite the drama and lack of a sound system, our collective heart connected with the audience and we delivered.

    Thanks to all of you for taking the time and expense to travel to that moment – and for reveling in our shared experience of HAIR. I’m feeling the love tonight! – WMH

  15. Joe Parisi on

    Where can I find a list of the original cast members of Hair in Chicago?

  16. jumping clapping man on

    Joe, unfortunately I don’t know off-hand, and a quick google search didn’t elicit an obvious site/link with that info. BUT, I’m sure it’s out there!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: