HAIR PROMISES TO LET THE SUNSHINE IN
The musical that broke with tradition and addressed critical issues of identity, upbringing, protest and the sexual revolution opens at the Auditorium tomorrow night.
Abbey Musical Theatre ( AMT) presents Hair, a controversial 1960’s musical that is just as relevant to a new generation.
The themes of peace, anti-war, political activism, drugs and relationships will resonate with today’s young people as well as bringing pleasure to an older age group who vividly remember the controversial musical when it first opened 45 years ago.
Hair, with book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni and music by Galt MacDermot, tells the story of a “tribe”, a community of politically active, young people living a bohemian life, embracing peace and the sexual revolution and protesting against war. Claude, his good friend Berger, their roommate Sheila and their close knit group of friends, struggle to balance their young lives and loves with their rebellion against conflict, conservative parents and society.
Production Manager for Hair, Merryn Osborne, says Hair had phenomenal success on Broadway, the West End and around the globe.
“It’s considered the world’s first rock opera and plays a very important part in the evolution of the musical,” she says. “It’s an incredibly visual show. It is full ensemble, all singing, all acting, all dancing as it confronts the issues faced by an anti-establishment group of people trying to make sense of the world around them.” Merryn points out that songs like The Age of Aquarius and Let the Sun Shine In are haunting, enduring standards with huge appeal to millions of people.
Claude, who has the dilemma of whether to serve his country or resist, is played by Tyrell Beck, “a stunning newcomer who gives a powerful performance” she says.
Bex Palmer, in her biggest role yet, is Berger, the influential leader who manipulates the tribe. Bex has played strong supporting roles in Mamma Mia and Sweeney Todd. Ashleigh Blummont, an impressive performer in British Invasion, is Sheila, a militant, in love with Berger and opposed to conscription and bloodshed.
While they’re the three leaders, every member of the ensemble has created a persona that they retain in song, dance and dialogue throughout the show. “When, in the 1960s, young people opposed Richard Nixon and the war in Vietnam, today’s generation are appalled at the violence in Syria and Iraq and oppose Donald Trump,” Merryn says. “That makes Hair so relevant in 2016.” AMT’s Hair, directed by Damian Thorne with musical director, Roger Buchanan and choreographer Nicola Morrison, runs from May 19 to June 4 at the Auditorium, Centennial Drive.
When cast members of Hair opposed politicians, Richard Nixon and LBJ, 40 plus years ago, today they protest Donald Trump. From left Sarah Leishman (Chrissy), Drew Pouniu (Woof) and Ashleigh Bond (Jacqueline).