cheek by jowl

Is ‘Hair’ Just ‘Cats’ With Hippies?

Photo: Photo: Joan Marcus

We were pretty excited to see the Public Theater revival of Hair in Central Park. After all, a lot of its songs about astrology and the deliciousness of black men are still relevant and catchy, and who doesn’t want to see naked people sing about the draft? And yet, as we watched ersatz hippies crawl out from the trees behind the stage, we couldn’t help but feel like we’d seen this spectacle before. The shaggy ensemble, the sparse plot, the mysticism, the hubris: It was all creepily familiar. And then it occurred to us: Isn’t Hair just Cats with hippies? After the jump, a hair-to-fur analysis. –Julie Klausner


Plot Songs are sung by cats about other cats, and what their deal is. Songs are sung by hippies about who they are, and what their deal is.
Qualifying lyrical lists of different varieties of hair/cats (severely abbreviated) Practical cats, dramatical cats, pragmatical cats, fanatical cats, oratorical cats, Delphi oracle cats, skeptical cats, dyspeptical cats… Long hair, straight hair, curly hair, fuzzy hair, snaggy hair, shaggy hair, ratty hair, matty hair, oily hair, greasy hair, fleecy hair, shining hair, gleaming hair, streaming hair, flaxen hair, waxen hair…
Villain Macavity, the Mystery Cat. The Vietnam War.
Revealing costumes Body-baring unitards adorned with yak fur and fake tails. Full-frontal nudity.
Contempt for the fourth wall Actors dressed up as cats creep around the audience, making everybody feel uncomfortable. Actors dressed up as hippies creep around the audience, making everybody feel uncomfortable.
Death-related ending Grizabella ascends to the “Heaviside Layer.” Claude dies in Vietnam, and it's "heavy," man.
Timelessness Now and Forever. Relevant for approximately 25 minutes in 1967.

Photos: Getty Images (Cats); Joan Marcus (Hair)

Is ‘Hair’ Just ‘Cats’ With Hippies?