By Jeff Walsh
This past Saturday, Gavin Creel was in New York City, talking to me on the phone.
18 hours after this interview, a car picked him up early in the morning, and took him to the airport, where he boarded a jet to London. In a few weeks, he and the rest of the Broadway tribe of Hair will open the show in the West End. Creel was Tony nominated for his turn as Claude, the conflicted hippie who has to decide what's important for him as the summer of love overlaps with the Vietnam War.
I reviewed the show back in January, but didn't realize at the time that Creel was openly gay. Having figured that out at some later point, we had a few interview attempts, but our schedules weren't lining up.
With the clock ticking on how long Creel would be on American soil, before bringing his magical show of peace and love to London, we finally made it happen. Here's what we said:
By Jeff Walsh
I was interested to see the wildly-popular revival of Hair on Broadway because I think the gay and hippie movements are intertwined, as both really got started in the late 60s. While the history of the gay rights movement links the Stonewall Riots to the death of Judy Garland, as they happened during the week of her funeral, to me it's always seemed like the culture was already shifting sexually, spiritually and culturally in ways that demanded that homosexuality express itself more naturally.
In the 40-odd years that have passed since Hair first played Broadway, hippies have become a bit of a cultural joke, but a lot of their legacy is still with us: the sexual revolution (including LGBT acceptance), health food, drug culture, expanding consciousness in other ways such as eastern religions, and of course, the music.
So, it is interesting to see Hair through that lens in its current revival, as a snapshot of a huge cultural shift. Of course, if you could care less about any of that, you'd still be in luck, since it's just a fun time capsule of a show brought expertly to life with an exuberant young cast.