Music: Galt McDermot
Book and Lyrics: Gerome Ragni and James Rado
Director: Jonathan O’Boyle
Reviewer: Helen Jones
It’s 1967. The US is in the middle of sending more troops out to fight in the Vietnam War. Two actors, Gerome Ragni and James Rado come across a demonstration against the war in New York’s Central Park, and so the idea for Hair is born. The show first opened in October 1967 and this tour is a spin-off from a 50thAnniversary production at Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester.
Hair is a psychedelic trip through a snippet of American history and a product of its time. Thankfully apart from an opening announcement about Donald Trump, this production remains true to its hippie roots. Opening with the iconic track Aquarius, the show is a vivid rollercoaster of music, dance and psychedelia. There are many familiar tracks in the show including; Ain’t Got No, Good Morning Starshine and the closing Let The Sun Shine In. But it is often in the lesser known numbers that the characters are allowed to shine.
Aquarius does immediately showcase two amazing voices Aiesha Pease as Dionne and Natalie Green as Cassie. These two characters take a lot of the lead vocals and the two actresses are stunning in their roles. Jake Quickenden is a flamboyant Berger and proves to have a strong singing voice although his diction is lost at times. Paul Wilkins is excellent as Claude, torn between wanting to do the right thing and wanting to be free. His final submission into conforming to expectation and accepting his draft papers is beautifully played out.
The entire cast is a very strong and energetic ensemble with lovely performances from Marcus Collins, Bradley Judge, Alison Arnopp and a wonderous turn as Margart Mead from Tom Bales. But generally, there isn’t a weak performance in the company and their energy and commitment is evident throughout.
Staging is done on a single set of multicoloured streamers and seemingly knocked together shelters designed by Maeve Black who was also responsible for the very sixties style costumes. Some of the shelters and stage area are inhabited by the band under the musical direction of Gareth Bretherton while the rest are used by the cast as dens. The band are superb and dressed in the same style as the rest of the cast, an integral part of the staging. Ben M Rogers clever lighting emphasises the hippie feel.,
Loud, energetic and ultimately feel good, Hair The Musical might now be nearly 52 years old but it’s not showing any signs of going grey.
Runs until Sat 13 April then continues on UK Tour | Image: Contributed