What a sensation Hair was when it first became a stage musical. Opening as a festival piece in New York in October 1967 it moved to a large NYC club after an audience member Michael Butler financed the move. Re-writing the story and adding more songs it became a Broadway hit a year later before opening in London courting controversy due to the nudity and censor. This just added to the fan base and so it opened in Shaftsbury Theatre after the laws changed and touring followed after that. Along the way were hit singles, not from the show but reworked pop hits for Oliver and even bigger for the Fifth Dimension with their medley from the show.
In those early days the Hippie lifestyle, the anti-war front and nudity made the show a huge success and this was all before the Woodstock Festival but certainly within the flower power peace movement peak. It is with that background that sees this revival and a 50th Anniversary. Now there are tourist trips to Vietnam and the songs and philosophy now meets a new generation in a world where student protests still make the news.
The UK tour comes to the capital this week with an impressive young cast that includes Dancing On Ice winner Jake Quickenden, Daisy Wood-Davis from Hollyoaks and X-Factor runner up Marcus Collins. The weed growing, draft dodging, peace promoting, love making storyline develops as each major cast member gets solo time which they grasp with outstanding ability. The stage set is simple, the lighting innovative for the space, choreography minimalistic but the songs make this show for sure. Opening with arguably the best known song (The Age of) Aquarius the harmony and effect was immeasurable. This production was bulging with songs with the well known getting the best reactions like Ain’t Got No, I Got Life, Good Morning Starshine, Hair and Let The Sun Shine In. The finale was a tour-de-force with participation, full ensemble, lighting effects and a full production as they reprised Let The Sun Shine In.
So new generations will discover these fashions accurately on display, examine the birth of drug culture, love ins and the birth of the anti-war peace movement through songs and the way of life as it was. A snapshot in time but don’t remind me it was fifty years since tie-dye, denims and bandana.
Edinburgh Playhouse till June 22