Paris, June 1 - Times change and theaters change with them. Last night the French edition of Hair opened at the Theatre de la Porte Saint-Martin, where Sarah Bernhardt and Coquelin once stormed the boards, and where Cyrano de Bergerac had it's premier.
If the noisy enthusiasm with which the first-nighters responded to Hair is symptomatic, the Gallic attitude toward American musicals has changed, too. Porgy and Bess and West Side Story, done here in English with Yankee companies, prospered, but the last Broadway song-and-dance show to attain success in French translation was Rose Marie.
The peculiar importation, with it's dynamic rhythm, youthful irreverence and crazy-quilt comic design, swept it's initial audience along with it. At the finale many spectators accepted the invitation to join the cast onstage to cavort in celebration with international goodwill.
As far as possible, Hair aims to be an exact reproduction of it's New York original, with a few Americanisms retained in it's lyrics and some topical quips added in Jacques Lanzmann's adaptation.
As the title has been preserved, it is employed for a dig at the present presidential candidate Alain Poher ("Po-hair") In the protest parade, one demonstrator carries a placard on which the "X" in Nixon has been distorted into the Nazi swastika (an innovation borrowed from the anti-American scribblings on Paris walls.)
The scene revealing the company stark naked in a subdued light is unlikely to encounter censorship trouble, for nudity is no novelty on the French revue stage. The mock police raid that follows the episode, with paddy wagon sirens sounding and actors disguised as patrolmen stalking the aisles, was greeted with appreciative laughter.
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