HAIR is about a group of young people in New York City’s East Village who band together as a TRIBE. They are a New York contingent of flower children, (a freeform phenomenon that had begun a little earlier in Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco and would subsequently spread to Europe & elsewhere). Taking on the feel of an American Indian tribe, they question authority and the society they are living in and the war in Asia. They seek to find a new way. They yearn to change the world. They begin by recreating themselves. They find a potent organic natural esthetic; the most dramatic visible element, all the men grow their hair long. They tune in to Eastern thought & meditation. They turn on and drop out. They hang out in self-made clouds of incense and grass. They laugh and cavort, as they find a new freedom of expression and camaraderie. They live in crash pads, in the parks and on the streets. Unkempt, wild, free, and deep, they are unique, colorful, something genuinely original and beautiful…and so hip (yet in a different style from the earlier hipsters and beatniks). A new word is coined to identify them. They come to be called hippies. They try to live by the philosophy of “Peace and Love.” They are on a trip of liberation. They commune, join hands in protest and in song. Within the context of the play, they struggle for the light, but are forced to fight & die, only to be reborn, again to suffer more, then to rise from the ashes, to glow, to shine…
HAIR The Musical Press Reviews:
The first great rock musical turns out to be a one-off masterpiece in its deployment of blues, jazz, bass rhythms, brass riffs and flat out melodic anthems, paving the way, no doubt, for Tommy and Jesus Christ Superstar but absolutely on its own as a lexicon of the jargon, taboos and post-war high school rebellion that shaped and stamped a whole generation. And who says making love, not war, is a bad idea anyway?
Michael Coveney for Whatsonstage.com (www.whatsonstage.com)
This sense of darkness is intensified by Will Swenson’s comic but deliberately un-endearing performance in the leading role of Berger. For all his posturing and sloganeering, he leaves no doubt that his character is more interested in getting high, getting his end away and being the leader of the gang than he is in politics or peace.
Charles Spencer for Telegraph (www.telegraph.co.uk)
The show was born out of protest, but its spirit is one of affirmation. It’s a sobering fact that by the end of LBJ’s presidency in 1969, the number of American servicemen killed and wounded was 222,351. By an eerie irony, that is very close to the number of “visible hippy dropouts” identified by an American sociologist, Professor Lewis Yablonsky, in the summer of 1967. Hair is very much an assertion of their credo. Today we may find their faith in flower power, astrology and chemical experiments naive. But Hair brought counter-cultural values to a mass audience and helped loosen up a whole generation.
Michael Billington for Guardian (www.guardian.co.uk)
It will never feel like the age of Aquarius’s first dawning in 1968 when Hair delivered a liberating pro-love, anti-Vietnam war message. Yet the hippy musical still feels good. And in an era when war still rages, the first act climax with the cast standing before us naked, remains a poignant reminder of the vulnerability of the human body.
John Nathan for THEJC.COM (www.thejc.com)
This is not a show for anyone squeamish about interacting with the cast. Even before I’d reached my seat, one of the friskier performers had loudly coveted my friend’s headgear.
Henry Hitchings for Evening Standard (www.thisislondon.co.uk)
Will Swenson is magnificent in the role of Berger, oozing ambiguous sexual appeal and flirting openly with most of the audience throughout the show. Despite Swenson’s obvious charms, it needs a huge leap of faith to imagine that he had dropped out from high school that decade, let alone that morning. Gavin Creel is marvellous as Claude, marrying the exuberance of I Got Life with the tortured drama of both his home life and his refusal to ignore the draft.
Paul Vale for TheStage (www.thestage.co.uk)
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