‘She asks me why, I’m just a hairy guy’ 2

Dance · Film · Theater

HAIR has roots in Hollywood, and we don’t mean hair roots. We mean theatrical roots.

In 1968, the West Coast premiere production opened on Sunset Boulevard, just two blocks from the Pantages, about six months following the production’s Broadway opening.

The Aquarius Theatre, re-named in honor of one of the show’s hit songs, would be HAIR’s home for two years. Los Angeles tribe members included Ben Vereen, Meat Loaf, Ted Neeley, Jennifer Warnes, Kay Cole, and more. The original Broadway team re-united to mount the L.A. production.

Says Julie McDonald, the doyenne of film/t.v./video dancer/choreographer talent representation in Hollywood:

I saw it in NYC. When it was first here I practically camped out at the Aquarius Theatre on Sunset. I must have seen it 10 times. Love the score.

In 1979, United Artists released a screen adaptation of the story that featured John Savage, Treat Williams and Beverly D’Angelo. Director was Miloš Forman, who had won an Academy Award for his direction of “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.”

Choreography in the film was by Twyla Tharp. Karole Armitage choreographed the current production.

arts·meme sincerely thanks david for the marvelous vintage photo.

2 thoughts on “‘She asks me why, I’m just a hairy guy’

  1. Marc Wanamaker Jan 25,2011 3:10 pm

    I was working for a new concert company called The Kaleidoscope and we took over the old Moulin Rouge (Earl Carroll Theatre)which was at the time being leased by a company called The Hullabaloo in early 1967. It was my job along with several others with theatre crafts experience to clean out the building, restore what we could and make it ready for a concert venue. We opened in April of 1967 and placed on the building our round Kaleidoscope sign. We were successfully producing concerts there for around a year when our backers pulled out leaving the building again vacant. In 1968 the Hair musical production people came in and restored the building beautifully and several of the Kaleidoscope personnel including myself began working for the Hair producers. When Hair finally finished it’s run other companies took over the theatre including such names as, the Long Horn Theatre, Chevy Chase Theatre and later Nickelodeon TV as it is today.

  2. Larry Billman Jan 25,2011 12:56 pm

    My memories of the Aquarius Theater go back even further when it was the Earl Carroll Theatre Restaurant, “Hollywood’s only full-fledged Nightclub/Theater.” Every service man who came to Los Angeles during World War II went – or was taken to – Earl Carroll’s with the cement-handprint-and-autograph-studded front. It opened on December 26, 1938 and proclaimed: “Through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world.” From the stunning Art Deco staircase into the mammoth theater, which featured turntables and other theatrical innovations, tiered with table for dining. It was an opportunity for Hollywood choregraphers and up-and-coming dancers to work. Being too young to be allowed in, I only knew about this Palace of Beauty from looking at the slighty-saucy programs my grandparents had saved. When Mr. Carroll died in a plane crash in 1948, it soon became Frank Sennes’ Moulin Rouge where Donn Arden presented beauty-filled songs, dance and spectacle (which can be seen in the 1959 film version of Imitation of Life) and once again, offered opportunities for musical stars and more dancers. Walking into that building in 1968 to find a naked stage, rows of theater seats rather than tiers of tables and having the cast climb on the seats and take their clothes off, I could only think: “Through these portals pass the funkiest bunch in town.” Boy, was I wrong. And much of the innovation was the work of Julie Arenal, who actually “set” the organic beginnings for all later versions.

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