Hair, which is also known as The American Tribal Love/Rock Musical, was first performed back in the 60s and since then has been seen all around the world, both on stage and on the silver screen. Revised several times to ensure it stays current (even to the extent of some productions changing the Vietnam War to the Gulf War) it has gained a reputation as ‘the show in which actors get their clothes off.’ Not being the normal community theatre fare it surprised to me to hear that Shire Music Theatre was attempting it. So, program in hand, I settled down to see what they would do with it and if the political/cultural elements of the show would come across.
Directed and choreographed by Sonja Benson and with musical direction by Dean Turner, the show itself is fabulously entertaining. The cast do an excellent job and sing and dance up a storm in their portrayal of the Tribe. Particular note must go to the show’s leads; Stephen Halstead (Berger) Jeremy Fleming (Claude) and Erin Gordon (Sheila) who make the love triangle at the centre of the story believable.
The problem with a lot of productions of Hair these days is that nearly all of the actors weren’t born in the 60s and hence have difficulty in truly understanding what the show is about. Hippies are an often caricatured group and it is all too easy, especially in community productions, for clichés to appear in the depictions of them. While the Shire production isn’t a total cliché there are certainly some in there and this does lessen the impact of the show somewhat.
A hard working cast, some good songs and an engaging story are the reasons why you should check out this show. It proves something I have felt all along, that community theatre is just getting better and better. Well done to all involved, it was a great night at the theatre and Shire’s Hair is a show you should check out.