On the Audience Front Lines at Hair and Rock of Ages

By
Photo: Joan Marcus

With the two rock musicals Hair (opening today) and Rock of Ages, Broadway has breached the fourth wall. In the mood to possibly have a cast member fall in your lap? See Hair! Want your loud eighties ballads filtered through an alcoholic haze? Go to Rock of Ages! This is some of the most vivid musical entertainment to be had on Broadway right now, but as we’ve observed from our orchestra seats, not everyone’s feeling it. Here’s what to expect, good and bad, from immersing yourself in these two shows.

Hair
The Gimmick: From the minute “Aquarius” starts, hippies are running through the theater, tumbling over walls, and generally getting all up in your face.

Rock On: The hippies are all pretty hot. You can also enter a lottery the day of the performance for a $25 seat in a “Be-In Box,” which is attached to ladders that host scrambling, and singing, cast members.

Bummer: We observed several … interesting facial expressions throughout the audience, especially on the Be-In inhabitants confronted with hairy heads popping up over their ledge. We also imagine it took the Be-In Boxers more time to run down to the stage to dance at show’s end.

Rock of Ages
The Gimmick: Drinking in the audience is encouraged by cheerful waiters.

Rock On: Drinking in the audience is encouraged by cheerful waiters.

Bummer: The drinks, naturally, are way overpriced. And while the show’s cheaply priced “VIP Green Room Boxes,” which come with private waitress service, sound great, the VIPs we saw (and hoped would be hilariously drunk) actually seemed pretty chilled out. We were also sad to learn that the show’s producers don’t get any profits from the drink sales — it all goes to the theater (per usual for Broadway).