Wednesday, September 5, 2012

HAIR the musical -Review- Nice Swan, People's Theatre

Nice Swan Theatre Co.
People's Theatre
4th September 2012

I was born in 1969, but if I ever miraculously become best friends with Doctor Who (John Pertwee, all the way!) and he affords me a ride in his tardis, then I would love to be transported by his mystical ways, to enjoy the swinging 60's era of free love, hippy power and just not giving a damn.

I didn't need The Doctor to do all of that,
Nice Swan handed it on a plate for me, with their wonderful adaptation of HAIR the musical, last night at the increasing place to be for top notch theatre and entertainment, The People's Theatre.

Charting the tale of Berger and Claude (fairly autobiographical characters of the writers, James Rado and Gerome Ragni) the leaders of a Tribe of hippies that flaunt the law, their parents and all that State wants from them. Set in the East Side area of New York, the Tribe worship nothing more than the power to party, free sexual relations between themselves and the rights to challenge every obstacle that is placed before them.
The main hurdle that they must cock their leg over is the Draft System (conscription) for the war in Vietnam.
Not surprisingly the tribe are up in arms (sic) about this and take their spliffed up demonstrations out into the streets of New York, where a hostile police presence awaits with batons and brute force.
The Tribe have a mass draft card burning session, but Claude, sensing deep hurt and lost pride from his family, makes a decision that ostracises him from the group and many a shedding of tear from his many lovers and friends.

In what I can only describe as totally pure, heady entertainment, HAIR bursts onto the fantastically set stage and wowed the audience with its wonderful acting and singing prowess of all.
I had to re-assess that I wasn't actually sitting in a top seat in Broadway or London's West End, the buzz was immense throughout.
From the first word that was uttered to the last, the skills of the Nice Swan team captivated the disappointingly small crowd. Fantastic scenes of near nudity (only male, SHAME!) in snake pits and one very memorable stoned piece where Hari Krishna's are garrotted by nuns, or maybe the other way around? I think I got into this play that much that the efforts of the stoners took over my body and soul and force fed me their marijuana!
With a brilliant score of songs including title track 'Hair', 'Aquarius', 'Where do I go' and ending with the superb 'Let the sunshine in' the crowd had a musical feast.

Everybody played their parts magnificently, wish I could name all but credits to Dale Jewitt (Claude), Thomas Whalley (Berger), Quentin Whitaker (Walter) a fantastic vocal performance by local singer songwriter Beth Macari (Dionne) and a fine cross dressing display from Zac Wancke playing Margaret Mead.
The set was superbly designed by Kirsty Emery ( I want that VW camper van) with spot on sound and lights by Terrence Errington and Chris Miller.
The Orchestra pit was ably led by David Gray (under the MD of Thomas Whalley), with fantastic sounds that totally flowed with what was happening on stage.
Superb dancing routines spiralled like the last draw on the characters spliffs, wonderfully put together by Stephanie Smith.
Director and producer Jane Hutchinson and Jamie Gray cannot be anything other than cock-a-hoop with their 'Tribe' on much hard work produced to make a delightful theatrical experience.
I don't have to tell you what to do..!!!!

Some great footage of the New York and worldwide anti-Vietnam demo's
HAIR is playing until 7th September.

Michael Hunter

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