Thursday November 30, 2017 @ The Vaults, Waterloo
Cast: Robert Metson, Andy Coxon, Laura Johnson, Liam Ross-Mills, Shekinah McFarlane, Natalie Green
I didn’t fully know what to expect with this show – I knew that it revolutionised musical theatre as we know it today, but not 100% sure as to how. But after seeing this new production that has been revived 50 years on, it all makes perfect sense. The show itself is very powerful in any capacity and the fact that majority of the questions raised in many lyrics are still relevant today says a lot about how we are moving backwards rather than forwards, they are meaningful and still scarily poignant. But it’s not all doom and gloom, the material is balanced out with liberating, catchy melodies which makes the music just to die for – there is a reason it is still around after 50 years.
The show follows ‘the tribe,’ as they combat the terms and conditions they are forced to live with in their daily lives. Like a few other musicals, the story is not fully complex or over-arching, instead the structure is more narrative, in the sense that characters will speak and the scene will shift into what they are doing and then come back to the location it started. I can’t compliment this production enough. Located under Waterloo Station, The Vaults Theatre provides a unique immersive experience the moment you walk in. The bar and foyer are transformed – the ground with bark to give a natural earth feeling and the walls and ceilings showered in tapestry’s. That’s why I love Off-West End and fringe theatres, they put in all that extra effort that it really makes a complete experience.
As the seating was unreserved, I decided to sit on the benches on the stage which followed-through with the immersive idea and the direction was fantastic in really involving you as part of the production, during the show-stopping title song and the drug-induced-trip sequence in which you’re literally engulfed in stage smoke – just incredible! This is a show in which you need everyone on-stage to give it (and subsequently bare) their all, and each performance was outstanding. Robert Metson was ever-gripping as Claude, Andy Coxon commanded the stage as Berger and Laura Johnson’s Shelia was stunning. Shout-out also to the incredible vocal talents of Natalie Green (Cassie) and Shekinah McFarlane (Dionne) whose voices rang throughout the theatre, in – among other numbers – the belty “Black Boys”/”White Boys”. As for Green, I would love to see her in a lead role in Wicked soon, as Elphaba and/or Glinda…because I think she could technically do both! Metson’s Claude had the most powerful of story-lines, the expectation from his parents for him to strive to a greater purpose; the fact that he mentions instead he wants to be “an invisible man,” and at the end of the show arguably becomes just that, is a brilliant comment and angle on the situation.
The show is emotional, put also it is pure joy, and is a must-see for any musical theatre fan and any fan of essential history-making material. What this show does it presenting this facts and questions to the audience in such a way that makes you jump to your feet and dance along with the cast on-stage at the finale is a liberating experience and something we need more of. While this is the first production of Hair I have seen, I hope it isn’t the last, although the next may struggle to compare to what I think is a practically definitive production of this iconic musical.
Hair runs at The Vaults through January 13, 2018.