BrumHour was invited to see Hair The Musical by The Alexandra.
By Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour
This production contains, nudity, drug taking, misogynistic language plus homophobic and racial slurs. And lots and lots of smoke!
Hair The Musical at The Alexandra
Book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado, Directed by Jonathan O’Boyle
Hair The Musical’s 50th Anniversary tour has landed in Birmingham all week at The Alexandra.
It’s the late sixties and a group of young American’s hippies in New York are exploring the world of drugs and free love, Berger (Jake Quickenden) quickly strips down to a thong and slightly ragged woolen jacket, his friend Claude (Paul Wilkins) has been drafted up to serve in the US Army, which he is desperate to avoid doing. He wants to burn his draft card to demonstrate but isn’t feeling brave enough to do so yet. The other hippies want him to protest. But can he pluck up the courage?
Hair was first performed in the UK after 1968 Theatre Act permitted nudity and profanity on stage. This beautiful 50th anniversary production of a landmark story explores the futility of war, the protest movements of the late 1960s, free love and experimental mind altering drugs.
While I didn’t know the story I did know the history of what this musical covers, including the protest movement, I knew many of the songs including (This is the age Of) Aquarius, Ain’t Got No, I Got Life (made even more famous by Nina Simone) and
The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In) were three I particularly know well. This is a very song heavy show with minimal dialogue.
The set is a semi-circular series of chain fences covered with multi-coloured ribbons hanging down, the sort you might tie to represent a person, across the top of the theatre are at least three more rows of ribbons, these glow in certain lights. The fantastic band is in three tree houses several feet off the floor and a cage is at the rear centre of the stage.
We only really learn broad characteristics of the tribe as they function mainly as one large group, their reluctance to accept their adulthood, Jeanie’s pregnancy and Claude’s army draft are huge signs of this, and so is Berger’s suggestion that they run away to India.
This is a really warm talented cast who interact with the audience throughout the show, from their arrival at the side of the stage to running through the stalls and dancing with the audience.
Paul Wilkins shines in his role as Claude as the action shifts to him, Daisy Wood-Davis and Alison Arnopp are great as is Marcus Collins, but its the antics of scene stealing Jake Quickenden that were a revelation through the first half and into the second half.
Hair the Musical is at The Alexandra until 4th May, book tickets here:
This isn’t a sponsored post.
When not writing about theatre for BrumHour, or producing Interval Theatre for Brum Radio (Tuesdays 3pm) brumradio.com/intervaltheatre, Dave Massey can be found eating crisps and claiming to be at the gym. And tweeting about Birmingham for #BrumHour.