There is a lot of history associated with Hair, back in 1968 it was the first West End production to feature full frontal nudity, the first mixed race musical and certainly the first to include a song entitled Sodomy.
Now revived at the Gielgud, the show is once again making history, importing the entire Broadway Company to the West End. The show has had several revival attempts over the years, including a major production at the Old Vic in 1993 that (undeservedly) flopped. So will this new import fair better?
If there is a new category in the Oliviers next year for sheer exuberance and energy Hair will win hands down. From the opening bars, to the final dancing ovation, the cast throw themselves into the production with unstoppable fervour.
The ‘93 production had audience seated on the Old Vic stage, but in a reversal here the cast use the auditorium as their playground; clambering over and using many in the stalls as an impromptu performance space. It can be quite unnerving to find a cast member suddenly slumped across the seat next to you, or getting up to things in the aisles that cant be repeated in a family blog.
Unfortunately some of the exuberance does mean that some lyrics where lost in the opening numbers but this was a temporary hick up and by the time the placards are being waved for I Believe in Love the show is back on track. It’s the only minor gripe of the evening however.
Leading the tribe are strong performances from Will Swenson, Sasha Allen, Caissie Levy and Gavin Creel. Swenson in particular clearly relishes the audience interaction. This is however a true ensemble performance and quirky characteristics.
Yes the plot is thin in places but the score remain infectious and the performances win over even the most hardened cynic. By the time Let the Sun Shine in draws to its haunting end there was a tear in the eye and a lump in the throat.
The US cast are confirmed for the initial months of the run and are well worth catching and whatever you do make sure you take your chance to let your hair down at the end and boogie onstage with the cast.
So 1993 revival or 2010 – both have their plus points. 93 had a stronger focus on plot but 2010 wins hands down for sheer fun.