Review: Hair at the Wolverhampton Grand

Book & Lyrics: Gerome Ragni & James Rado

Music: Galt MacDermot

Director: Jonathan O’Boyle

Musical Director: Gareth Bretherton

Choreographer: William Whelton

Hair’s 50th Anniversary production was produced by Hope Mill Theatre back in 2016 and the fresh production lives on as it tours the UK. The production ages well, set in front of the turbulent world that surround us where war and power continue to be dominant forces.

Opening the production are voice clips from Donald Trump. From the getgo, it punches the message that this is not a musical that deserves to be seen as a piece consigned to the history books. This modern theme continues through with an end that thunders through the Wolverhampton Grand auditorium.

The performance cleanly defines the topics of Love, Sex, Race and Anti War with chapter like sections, while also peppering in hope, freedom and friendship throughout. It’s a production you have to allow yourself to be absorbed into and if that happens it’s a beautiful production that is sure to move you.

The lighting design by Ben M Rogers is a technicolour marvel. It fully incorporates you into this dream like state, high on love and comradeship. At the same time, there are moments that deliberately make you uncomfortable and it’s a great way of bringing you into the mind of the characters as the start reality of the world engulf them.

The vibrant, festival like playground by set designer Maeve Black echoes that of a forest, while at the same time removes the production from a rigid time. It allows the production to mix past with the present so neither looks out of place.

The cast all bond together to form a community. They execute William Whelton’s choreography with snap precision. Their voices are top quality and while the sound mixing of the voices and the band felt slightly off this evening, the vocal talent that is on stage shines through. The closing harmonies, in particular, are enough to give you goosebumps. Aiesha Pease’s vocals are also exceptional, particularly during the reprise of Let the Sun Shine In.

Tom Bales gets the biggest laughs of the evening, interacting with the audience as Margaret Mead and Jake Quickenden firmly makes his mark as Berger. While he may be a star name, he’s not one that’s just been parachuted in to sell tickets. Instead, he makes a steady leader of the tribe in the role of Berger.

Paul Wilkins’ Claude is complex as he goes through a journey of self-discovery and finds out his true destiny. You can see the torment he goes through as he’s torn between what his family expect, what the tribe want to see and desires he has to just be invisible.

Hair will be reminiscent for some, which you can see on the faces of the older members of the audience who join the cast in the finale. However, this production is carefully crafted to make it just as bold and important as it was when it was first staged. It’s an infectious, communal piece that welcomes you into the tribe. Let your hair down, go wild and enjoy this striking production.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

5money*A complimentary ticket was given in exchange for this review. This value for money rating is based on the ticket price value of £34.50*+ £3 Booking Fee. For more info on this value for money rating please visit here: Introducing a new kind of rating

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