Hands up who else has had the joy of the summer-time cold? So with that, my deputised Musical reviewer, aka Mum, went with her cronies to see Hair the musical, which was on tour and visiting Oxford this week. From here it heads to Sheffield, Brighton and is back in the area in Milton Keynes from 15th to 20th July 2019.
Hair is celebrating its 50th anniversary and the current version stars Dancing on Ice Winner Jake Quickenden, Daisy Wood-Davis (Hollyoaks/ Dreamboats & Petticoats) and Marcus Collins (X-Factor Finalist/ Kinky Boots).
Set in 1967, Hair features a tribe of communal-living hippies from East Village, New York who are looking to change the world one peace love symbol at a time. Claude, one of the main protagonists, faces a battle between his life characterised by the pursuit of love, peace, long-hair and sexual revolution and his family’s urge for him to join the forces and fight in Vietnam.
I was disappointed that I wasn’t feeling up to see Hair. It’s a production that has gone out of its way to push people’s buttons and push the boundaries on what they could sing and gesticulate about on stage.
The original performance effectively marked the end of stage censorship in the United Kingdom which finally came to an end in July 1968. In fact in London, the Lord Chamberlain, originally refused to license the musical and the opening was delayed until Parliament passed a bill stripping him of his licensing powers.
Before 1968 any reference to homosexuality, bisexuality, nude performances would have been considered to outrageous to be shown on British stage.
Hair was widely divisive – in April 1971 a bomb was thrown at the theatre housing the production in Cleveland, Ohio; the musical aired one-night at a theatre in Mexico before being padlocked by the government on the grounds that is was detrimental to the morals of youth (probably due to Hair’s famous nude scene); and in Bergen, Norway citizens created a human barricade preventing theatregoers from getting in.
On the other hand, Princess Anne, aged 18, headed up on the stage during the London performance in 1968. (Always did like her!)
My mum was impressed with the stage set and the solo voices of all the cast, who gave gutsy performances of the well-known rock tunes including ‘Aquarius’, ‘Let the Sun Shine In’, ‘I Got Life’ and ‘Good Morning Starshine’. It’s certainly one to look out for on tour.
The original musical is written by Gerome Ragni (book and lyrics), James Rado (book and lyrics) and Galt MacDermot (music).
The 50th anniversary production is directed by Jonathan O’Boyle (Pippin, Rain Man, Aspects Of Love), who is reunited with the brilliant creative team from Hope Mill Theatre: Gareth Bretherton (Musical Director), William Whelton (Choreographer), Maeve Black (Designer), Ben M Rogers (Lighting Designer), Calum Robinson (Sound Designer) and producers Katy Lipson for Aria Entertainment, Joseph Houston & William Whelton for Hope Mill Theatre, Ollie Rosenblatt for Senbla, and associate producer Guy James.