Hair, The Musical, is at Milton Keynes Theatre celebrating its 50th birthday this year and this legendary musical still has the power to shock and liberate. Set in 1967 in the east village of New York, a tribe of youngster’s are yearning to change the world and are questioning authority. With free love, mind-altering substances, the hippie ‘tribe’ of politically active youngsters living a Bohemian existence set out to dodge the draft and change the world through protest and song.
The whole cast of Hair are exceptional. They are all multi-talented and of West-End standard. If you are questioning how is this show still relevant today, the first few moments answer that question, when we hear Trump and previous presidents talk about war. Nothing has changed. Berger comes onto break the fourth wall and talk to the audience. Played by Jake Quickenden, he is young, smart and totally charming. He is glad we say hello back – he was worried we were a hallucination. Each member introduces themselves – Jeanie (Alison Arnopp) is pregnant and hung up on Claude (Paul Wilkins) but the baby isn’t his. Claude is rather hung up on Berger and Sheila (Daisy Wood-Davis). She loves a protest. Then there is Hud (Marcus Collins), a militant African-American and Woof (Bradley Judge), who grows plants you can smoke. Although the story is a bit sketchy through its drug infused state, it’s still a joy to watch…and not just watch. To get up on stage at the end of the show and dance.
When Hair was first performed, never before had bisexuality, interracial relationships and nudity been seen on stage. I was too young to experience the hippy movement of the late sixties/early seventies but Hair brings it all to life in a musical bursting with free love and nudity whilst protesting against the Vietnam war. I was wary about seeing this show – not just nudity (after all, we are British!) but the whole promoting of illegal drugs. However, this show has more substance than that. It is about love; it is about becoming the person you are meant to be. It is about following your faith that you will decide your own path. The show feels fresh and still life-affirming. It celebrates anti-establishment almost a decade before punk came along and leaves you feeling full of optimism, hope and positive karma. Why wouldn’t you want to see this show? With classic numbers such as I Got Life, Good Morning Starshine, Aquarius and Let the Sunshine In, it truly is the summer of love.
If you believe that love is the answer, Hair is gonna let the sunshine in.
At Milton Keynes Theatre from 15 – 20 Jul