Hair the Musical: New Theatre, Oxford – Review

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HAIR THE MUSICAL, , Director - Jonathan O’Boyle, Lighting - Bem M Rogers, Choreographer - William Whelton, Designer - Maeve Black, New Wimbledon Theatre, London, UK, 2019, Credit: Johan Persson

Celebrating 50 years since the original production, Hair – The  Musical is now on a nationwide tour and currently at New Theatre, Oxford.
Welcome to the ‘Age of Aquarius’. It’s 1967 and HAIR’s hippie ‘tribe’ youngsters in the East Village of New York are yearning to change the world, questioning authority and the American flag. Wild, colourful, sexually liberated and free, they are united in protest and song, under the shadow of the Vietnam War.

The thin plot centres around one of the characters, Claude (played by Paul Wilkins), being drafted into the army and his hippy friends encouraging him to remain with them to protest rather than sign up. 
Throughout the entire show there is no change of scenery, other than some quite impressive fluorescent illuminations in the second half, and virtually no costume changes. The cast of 14 are on stage most of the time taking turns to lead the many songs, some of which will be quite familiar to most – Aquarius, Good Morning Starshine and Let the Sun Shine In being the most recognisable. As most of the cast were on the stage throughout it seemed at times that it was just a long succession of songs loosely tied together by the plot and it was difficult to know whether we were watching the actual story unfold or whether it was one of the drug induced hallucination scenes. As a result there were few surprises or spectacular scenes – well, apart from the infamous nude scene, of course…..!
All cast members gave excellent performances, but special mention should be made of Jake Quickenden (of X Factor and Dancing on Ice fame) as Berger, showcasing his fine voice (and it has to be said, rather fine body!), and Aiesha Pease as Dionne and Natalie Green as Cassie with amazing strong and wide ranging vocals from both girls.
The very accomplished musicians were positioned at the back of the stage on raised platforms – all suitably decked out as hippies – and really enhanced the many songs throughout the show.
The finale was a reprise of Let The Sun Shine In, when the audience were invited onto the stage to join in the dancing the singing which seemed to go down very well.
All in all an enjoyable evening, but you probably needed to have been a 60’s hippy to really appreciate it fully and ‘get into the groove’.
Hair – The Musical, New Theatre, Oxford – until Saturday 29th June. Tickets available from www.atgtickets.com.

Sue Roberts

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