Hair transcends the turbulent 60s
In selecting Hair as its second production for 2016, Abbey Musical Theatre has chosen a musical that transcends the turbulent decade it was set in.
The themes of peace, anti-war, political activism, drugs and the sexual revolution which confronted the world, and America in particular, in the late 1960s are ageless and resonate with today’s young people.
Director Damian Thorne says these issues are just as relevant today and present a powerful message to 21st century audiences. ‘‘It’s about anti-war, protests, permissive sex – even demonstrating against the Star Spangled Banner is so appropriate as we debate getting rid of our own flag,’’ he says.
With the struggle of an antiestablishment group trying to make sense of the world around them, being relocated in a new age, so too must the costumes reflect another era.
Damian has engaged costumer Philip Hausman to create a new look for the show. In the past Philip has created spectacular costumes for the Operatic Society, as it was then called, and Centrepoint but he’s been coaxed out of retirement for this production.
‘‘It was the opportunity to work with Damian. We think on the same wavelength,’’ Philip says.
The original production was costumed and accessorised with tie-dyed fabrics, daisy chains, peace signs and love beads, however, for the new millennium, Philip wants to mesh the past with the present.
‘‘We’re creating our own look. It will be completely different from the original but with strong references back to the 1960s. It will make the show timeless,’’ he explains.
The psychedelic imprint of the hippie movement will be retained but the pendulum has moved to inject a strong military presence in the costumes. ‘‘Each individual costume will have an element of both. They’ll have a military exterior but a psychedelic interior,’’ Philip says. ‘‘They must be multifunctional. My challenge is to create a costume that transforms itself from long flares to hot pants.’’
‘‘The trenchcoat in turn opens to reveal an LSD trip on stage.’’
Philip started to seriously consider the costumes six months ago. He began by researching the original era, tapping into Damian’s brain, seeking fabrics from the ‘60s and ‘70s and creating cross-over garments in his mind.
Now six weeks out he’s fine tuning each look and ensuring the costumes and accessories are flamboyant and functional. They’ll be so good that Philip would like to stage a fashion show with them.
‘‘When people go to Hair I want them to remember the costumes as well as the impact of the production,’’ he says. ‘‘It’s that dynamic that’s brought me back to the theatre.’’
AMT’s Hair, runs from May 19 to June 4 at The Auditorium, Centennial Drive. For bookings, visit AMT’s website.
Damian Thorne (left) and Philip Hausman display one of Wayne Roberts’ panels as part of
AMT’s Hair set design.