Hair the Musical Review | Palace Theatre | Manchester
Shaped around a peaceful gang of misfits, Hair the Musical stretches its love out into the audience and recruits new members into its tribe from the comfort of their theatre seats. Living in New York within the Age of Aquarius, the unique members of the compound centre their laidback musical around loving oneself, loving your neighbours and sticking it to the man.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the hippies have pitched their tent at the Palace theatre and surrounded themselves with multi-coloured, makeshift paper strings, a tepee to house their live band and a burning drum of fire. Mixing audiences into their melting pot of free love and pot, the group throw flowers, confetti, leaflets and smoke to draw you in to their movement.
In a mishmash of stories, we follow Cassie (Natalie Green), Donnie (Aiesha Pease), Berger (Jake Quickenden) and Claude (Paul Wilkins) amongst other members, as each sing their troubles away. The group explore issues of unrequited love, their purpose in life and their frustration with The Man until the threat of Claude being drafted into the Vietnam war leads them to come together to convince their friend to rebel against the fight.
You may finally have the chance to forget your troubles and join that cult you’ve been day dreaming about as these hippies are happy to jump off the stage, thrust in your direction, pull on your tresses and invite you back to their tee-pee for an onstage Be-In. Focusing on the energy, comedy and communal celebration around what it means to live in the 60s as a free-thinking radical, the productions swift shift in tone keeps the songs upbeat and its childish jokes running throughout the show.
Controversial for its diverse cast, images of sexuality portrayed on stage and for baring their naked truth, the shows more daring moments are bombarded with forgotten classics like, I Got Life, Age of Aquarius and Good Morning Starshine. There is no lowly singer amongst the tribe, as the groups powerful voices keep the performances fast-paced with revivals of hits that deserved their own cast recording. The shows finale group revival of Let the Sunshine In was a particularly beautiful and memorable rendition that cut the music to showcase the powerful voices the cast.
However, with long hair, free love and drugs aplenty, the only downside appears to be its underlying subject matter that has somewhat dated moments from its original 1967 debut and is here to remind you that it is far better to relive the 60s onstage than live through the time period. The levitating love of these hippies will not distract you from the donning of questionable oriental accents (all be it from dream sequences) or the fact that timid audience members may want to buy a ticket from the 3rd row onwards. Hair remains an empowering and rebellious production that is an entertaining experience due to its lively and fantastic cast. It may have a short run at the Palace theatre for its 50th anniversary, but the 60s style is bound to come back around.