‘Hair’ made its debut off Broadway in 1967. It was a ground breaking show, it is said to have defined the rock-musical. It was controversial from the outset, it challenged the conventions of the time about culture, sex and war. When it opened in the West End in 1968 The Guardian’s review was less than flattering: “It is all a good deal less awful than it sounds but will probably find its own proper audience, if that is the right adjective.”
And find an audience it did. Fifty-three years on and the show has toured the world, been made into a film and is currently on what must be at least its third stage revival on both sides of the Atlantic. Of the thirty plus songs in the original Broadway show many became anthems of the anti-war protests focused, at the time on, Vietnam and on conscription to the American Army.
On Friday, ‘Hair – The Musical’ opens for a short run of just four shows at INTERLUDE@UEA and I for one cannot wait to see how this show has aged. Will she be like that crazy old aunt of indeterminable age who does awesome things like backpacking alone in Peru? Or will she be a sweet demure character, aging gracefully and dressing appropriately?
I am leaning towards the former. Directed by Arlene Philips, yes, she from Strictly, and featuring a host of West End stars this show has the makings of something very special indeed. It is a specially produced concert version of Hair and I for one will be re-imagining my long hair of the 60s and getting ready to groove to that infectiously energetic rock beat with songs like Aquarius, Good Morning, Starshine, Hair, I Got Life and Let The Sun Shine.
But there is another reason I am excited for this show. Norwich Theatre in collaboration with Lost in Translation Circus and UEA have been imaginative in their approach to the current crisis in which live entertainment finds itself. Unable to use their theatres they created INTERLUDE in a tent in Chapelfield Gardens for six weeks, with live shows playing to sell out audiences. That tent is now on the UEA campus to welcome new and returning students at the beginning of the new academic year.
This sort of imaginative and creative thinking is to be lauded and supported if we are to keep our theatres and live entertainment alive.
Tickets are available from the box office 01603 630 000 with more information available at www.norwichtheatre.org