Hair – by Jerome Ragni & James Rado Music by Galt Macdermot. New Wimbledon theatre SW19 1QG. 3 ***. William Russell

HAIR – 50th anniversary tour.
Book & Lyrics by Gerome Ragni & James Rado
Music by Galt Macdermot.
New Wimbledon Theatre, The Broadway, London SW19 1QG to 30 March 2019 & then on tour. Dates at end of review.
Performances 7.30pm Mat 2.30pm
Runs 2hr 30 mins. One interval.
Review: William Russell 28 March.
Bright, breezy and energetic if pointless revival.

This touring production, which started life at the Hope Mill Theatre and enjoyed success at last year’s Vault Festival in London, now embarks on a trip round the nation which will end in August in Glasgow.
Way back in 1968 it was edgy, daring, controversial – there was nudity now commonplace in the theatre, but then terribly risqué and upsetting to the censors – and about the topics of the time. It was the era of free love, flower power, the Vietnam war was at its height and draft cards were being burnt in protest. But the issues which made it exciting are long gone, although there was a revival some years back which substituted the Iraq war in an attempt to lend some topicality. Today, while fine as a rock concert, it all seems rather pointless.
Hair was never the greatest book musical, but the score contained some fine songs like Good Morning Starshine and Aquarius and taken as a jolly rock concert performed by personable and talented young performers, which is what it comes down to, this revival directed by Jonathan O’Boyle passes the time no bother at all. It would help if, as well as being able to sing, which they all can, they could actually do something about the words so that one understood what was going on. There is rather too much gabbling taking place for comfort. Expecting to make out all the lyrics, which are good, is expecting too much of any musical these days. Even opera singers need surtitles when singing in English to be understood. But the series of sketches in the second half, which made valid points then, are well nigh incomprehensible now as Vietnam is long forgotten.
But it adds up to a bright, breezy night out with nice work from Paul Wilkins as Claude, the pretty boy with hair who bites the bullet and goes to war,Jake Quickenden as the louche Berger, his friend, and Daisy Wood-Davis and Alison Arnopp as Shiela and Jeannie respectively among the assorted girl friends. Everyone dances up a storm, although the choreography is more a lot of leaping and bounding than actually dancing, the band under Gareth Bretherton does full justice to the score, and there is an attractive well lit set designed by Maeve Black.
Jeannie: Alison Arnopp.
Glowy/Margaret Mead: Tom Bates.
Hud: Marcus Collins.
Raven: Louise Francis.
Cassie: Natalie Green.
Jackson: David Heywood.
Woof: Bradley Judge.
Dionne: Alesha Pease.
Berger: Jake Quickenden.
Helena: Laura Sillett.
Tajh: Spin.
Crissy: Kelly Sweeney.
Claude: Paul Wilkins.
Sheila: daisy Wood-Davis.

Director: Jonathon O’Boyle.
Resident Director: Max Reynolds.
Soundscape Designer: Max Perryment.
Lighting Designer: Ben M Rogers.
Sound Designer: Calum Robertson.
Musical Director & Arrangements: Gareth Bretherton.
Set & Costume Designer: Maeve Black.
Choreographer: William Whelton.
Production photographs: Johan Persson.
Tour dates: Everyman, Cheltenham 1-6 April; Palace theatre, Manchester 8-13 April; New Theatre, Cardiff 15-20 April; Theatre Royal, Plymouth – 22-27 April; Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham 29 April – 4 May; Sunderland Empire – 6 – 11 May; The Orchard, Dartford – 13 – 18 May; Liverpool Empire – 20-25 May; King’s Theatre, Portsmouth – 10-15 June; Playhouse, Edinburgh – 17-22 June; New theatre, Oxford – 24 – 29 June; Lyceum, Sheffield – 1 -6 July; Theatre Royal, Brighton – 8-13 July; Milton Keynes 15 – 20 July; Wolverhampton Grand 23-27 July; Koelner Philharmonie – Cologne 30 July – 4 August; King’s Glasgow 7 – 10 August.

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