Hair – The Musical
An Outdoor Concert
part of INTERLUDE@UEA
Somewhere en-route from the car park at UEA I took a wrong turn and indulged in an interesting tour of the student halls. You would think a big red tent would be easy to find in a field and perhaps it is, in daylight! None the less I arrived on time, joined a polite socially distanced queue, listened to the instructions from the friendly staff and was escorted to my seat.
I had a slight advantage over many in tonight’s audience. I saw this show in the early seventies in context against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, conscription, drug use, free-love, and the political activism of the time. I was curious to see how a twenty-first century audience would react.
Would we be going home shocked, affronted, and deep in thought or would we simply be trying to remove the ‘gliddy glup gloopy nibby nabby noopy’ earworm?
All this pondering evaporated as the house lights dimmed and that infamous bass line began, and the moon moved into the seventh house…
Of all of the songs in this show, ‘Aquarius’ was going to make it or break it for me. I got goosebumps – led by T’Shan Williams they nailed it, and so I sat back and relaxed. Revisiting this show was going to be fun. Not least because of the well-known songs, but because of the stellar cast which included Frances Mayli McCann, Cleve September, Layton Williams, Matt Croke, Jordan Luke Gage, Sophie Isaacs and Jodie Steele.
The cast and five-piece band were reveling in being able to perform to a live audience. You could see it in their eyes. With our seats socially distanced there would have been plenty of room for the cast to dance amongst the audience if such a thing were allowed.
Suddenly I was reminded of why this show was so controversial when it first opened. Although the lyrics to ‘Hashish’ are tame enough, the same could not be said of ‘Sodomy’!
This of course was not the full-blown show but a specially produced concert version of Hair, directed by Arlene Philips. Its four performances bringing the virtual curtain down on INTERLUDE@UEA.
Far too soon we were all foot tapping along to ‘Starshine‘ brillantly performed by Jodie Steel, as we in the audience all tried to remember the nonsense words. Then came the slow, rhythmic, tribal build up to the finale which drew a well-deserved standing ovation.
So, has this show stood the test of time? Yes, it has, for we will always have rebellious youth, authorities who don’t listen and passionate people who want to affect change. Norwich Theatre and their partners are to be congratulated for their efforts in keeping live entertainment alive. At any other time this show would expect a two or three week run, instead it’s run is but for four performances, two tomorrow and one on Sunday.