Following on from the phenomenal success of Parade earlier this year, Hope Mill Theatre and Aria Entertainment have teamed up once again to bring to cult classic and perhaps the most iconic of all rock musicals Hair to Manchester.
Set in New York’s East Village in the 6o’s at a time when the counter culture of a freedom and peace loving youth was emerging, Hair remains as current and relevant today as it was back in 1967 when it burst onto the New York theatre scene with its message of love, peace and a rejection of conservative America, in particular the controversial Vietnam war. Through Hair we meet a tribe of hippies who passionately believe in a ‘Make Love, Not War’ way of life, turning their backs on the expectations of their families and society and creating their own free love and liberal environment in which to belong. At the heart of the story is Claude and his battle to resist his draft to the army, does he do as his friends have done and live the life he chooses or does he succumb to society’s expectations, rejecting his beliefs of pacifism and freedom by serving for his Country in Vietnam.
The intimate staging of Hope Mill Theatre is perfect for this innovative production. Bold, bright and brilliant Hair is an absolute triumph, each and every member of the cast is exceptional, from the opening number, the much loved Aquarius the cast draw you in and immediately you wish you were part of their tribe. Engaging and totally absorbing Director Jonathan O’Boyle and Choreographer William Whelton have guided this talented cast in the most delightful way, each individual member is given the opportunity to shine, showcasing their incredible talent and then together as an ensemble the impact of the cast as a whole is mesmerising. The staging perfectly sets the scene for this great production, upon entering you are immediately immersed into a colourful, safe and relaxed space, with blankets scattered about in a nod the the original productions be-in. Add to this a stunning score from Galt MacDermot delivered superbly by a small band of five led wonderfully by Musical Director Gareth Bretherton.
It seems almost unfair to single anyone out for special praise from this unbelievably talented tribe but Ryan Anderson – Berger, Liam Ross-Mills – Woof, Robert Metson – Claude, Laura Johnson – Sheila and Natalie Green – Mom deliver their roles with a passion thats so wonderful to see. Special mention must also go to Hope Mill Theatre owners Joseph Houston and William Whelton, their drive and determination to bring such quality and innovative theatre to Manchester must be commended, making theatre accessible and more affordable is hugely admirable and they are truly deserving of all the success that has come and no doubt will continue to come their way. The announcement of 2017’s musical theatre programme again in partnership with the wonderful Aria Entertainment has us counting down the days until their next opening night! (Yank! On 9th March in case you’re wondering!)
Hair is an absolute must see, a triumphant piece of theatre, uplifting, absorbing and beautifully symbolic, a timely reminder that love is way more powerful than hate, and ultimately we are all one tribe who really should just love each other.
Hair runs at Hope Mill Theatre until Saturday 3rd December, tickets available here;