“a whacky show that is wildly entertaining”
Hair is a hippie rock musical set in 1967 under the shadow of the Vietnam War and follows the lives of this band of friends. Protesting peace and love, and living young wild and free, Hair is the age of the rebels in America.
The current UK tour of Hair is the show’s 50th anniversary, and I can only imagine the response the show would have had when it first opened. Within the first five minutes, Jake Quickenden is trouser-less and in nothing more than a thong to say the least, later in the show Tom Bales is sporting a dress and wig while sitting on an audience member’s lap, and at the end of the first act, everyone gets naked. And no, not The Full Monty style with dim lights to cover privates, everything is on show.
Hair is definitely a wild ride from start to finish and despite a lack of clear story, still makes for a great show. The individual performers are stellar, with voices and performances unlike anything I had seen or heard before.
Paul Wilkins is outstanding as Claude and I could have listened to his rendition of “I Got Life” over and over again. I will never understand how he manages to sing so powerfully and in tune, as well as jumping up and down. This one song captures the show as the high energy spectacle that it is. I had previously seen Paul play Marius in Les Misérables, so it was refreshing to see him really give some oomph on stage as a completely different character and show what a versatile actor he is.
Marcus Collins is a star. I recognised his voice from hit TV series X Factor and was slightly nervous whether he’d be up to the task of this iconic rock hippie musical. However, he certainly delivered. With vocals that rocked the New Theatre and amazing performances, even in his cameo roles, he shone as character Hud.
Other standout performances come from Natalie Green as Cassie, Alesha Pease as Dionne, Tom Bales – especially in his cameo role of Margaret Mead – Jake Quickenden as the hugely likable and narrator Berger, and Daisy Wood Davis as Sheila – particularly in her rendition of “Good Morning Starshine”.
Bradley Judge as Woof and Kelly Sweeny as Crissy were also notable, but I couldn’t understand the point in their characters, which was a shame.
Hair has some very poignant moments, relating back to the political state of the world in 1967. An interesting idea was to have the voice of Donald Trump over the overture, which really brought light to how similar the political state is of the world to the late 60s.
Watching the protests of the Vietnam war really moved me and as a woman especially, inspired me to stand up for what I believe in.
Of course, amongst these poignant political points were a lot of funny moments, drugs, and relationships, all contributing to making a whacky show that is wildly entertaining. Some points were hard to follow, and whilst I enjoyed most songs, couldn’t see how they fit into whatever story was really going on beneath the surface.
This high energy show featuring neon paint, skipping, audience interaction and nudity would be less impacting without the amazing lighting by Ben M Rogers and design by Meave Black. It is rare for me to notice these aspects of a show usually, but it was so well done and the stage was so beautiful, it couldn’t go unnoticed if it tried.
Hair is celebrating its 50th anniversary and the tour continues to Plymouth, Birmingham, Sunderland and more. The tour closes in Glasgow in August.