When I opened my morning paper, I came across two separate reviews of two very different shows: one live at the Hollywood Bowl ("Hair") and one a three-camera situation comedy on the Tee Vee Machine ("Partners"). It was striking that included in each of the reviews was a reminder of the sad state of affairs in this world. Maybe they should have reviewed "post racial America" and tragedies of war.
I was an usher at the original production of "Hair" at the Ivar Theater in Hollywood (godI'mold), and was completely and utterly swept away by that production. Anti-war protests were everywhere, bell bottom jeans were coming into fashion, and long-haired, pot-smoking, peace-loving hippies were a gentle, emerging force to reckon with. I wanted to be a part of the show, live the show, not seat audience members. It was a magical time, but also a scary one. I wore one of these proudly:
Another focus of what seemed like perpetual protests was civil rights. One day, we dreamed, one day there would be equal rights for everyone regardless of color. In our idealistic vision, making a film like "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" would be a quaint period piece, not an expression of growing pains and hope or a demand for change.
Those were the days, right? Sadly, those are still the days, right now as we speak.
Via L.A. Times theater critic Charles McNulty reviewing the '60s rock musical "Hair":
I worried that this co-opting of the 1960s — a criticism leveled at the musical at least since its Broadway premiere in 1968 — might be depriving a new generation of theatergoers the chance to connect to a radicalism that our own war-torn age could badly use. But the musical's tragic ending laid its punch. "Hair" is fun-loving but also serious-minded. I left humming "Let the Sunshine In" but also wondering how I could make a difference in a world once again going up in flames.
Via L.A. Times TV critic Robert Lloyd reviewing the premier of a new sit-com starring Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence, "Partners":
A black actor and a white actor splitting top billing in a sitcom is enough of a rarity to be noted approvingly. And there are moments that suggest that the stars will find their footing. But for the nonce they're playing attitudes more than characters, and at times they seem to be in the same show only by virtue of sharing the shot.
Splitting top billing in a prime time half-hour comedy between a black actor and a white one should not be a Moment of Happy rarity. Especially in 2014. It should be the damned norm. Sigh.
Let the sunshine in.