HAIR: 50th Anniversary Australian Tour
Memory of your passionate youth gets a standing ovation.
HAIR, the American Tribal Love-Rock Musical is 50-years old. The stage show has been playing in an odd mix of venues across Australia.
The majority of people in the audience at Sydney Opera House on the night I saw the show appeared to be just about the right age to have seen (or heard songs from) the original in their childhood, teens and twenties – which would have also seen many grow their hair, participate in the anti-Vietnam war movement …. even burn their draft cards.
The musical itself doesn’t stand the test of time quite so completely as its whole-hearted support by the audience implied. Act One, essentially a tribute to long hair and drugs, all seems a bit trite in an era when drugs are no longer considered to be counter-cultural but more likely to be supporting the lavish lifestyle of someone you’d prefer not to know. It was the second act that successfully proved to both capture memories and stir up emotions.
The idea of sending Australian youth to an unwinnable war hasn’t lost its sting. The scene where our counter-cultural hero Claude (Matthew Manahan) is drafted to what will be his death – a moving scene where his naked, lifeless body is silhouetted centre stage – has not lost any of its tragedy. Multiply this depiction by 521 and you approach the number of Australian deaths in the Vietnam war, while over 3000 Australian troops were wounded.
All the favourite songs ‒ ‘Aquarius’, ‘Good Morning Starshine’, 'Hair', ‘Let the Sun Shine In’, etc ‒ were sung with gusto by a cast led by Hugh Sheridan as ‘Berger’, Paulini as ‘Dionne’, Prinnie Stevens as ‘Sheila’, and the fore-mentioned Matthew Manahan as ‘Claude.
The audience was embracing of director Cameron Menzies’ production and I believe almost everyone in the full-house Concert Hall was on their feet and clapping at night's end.
(*Special treat for me was to have dinner in the Green Room! An interesting insider experience and the cupcakes are magnificent :)