HAIR The Musical @ His Majesty’s Theatre gets 8/10

HAIR The Musical @ His Majesty’s Theatre
Saturday, August 24, 2019


One of the world’s most beloved musicals has descended upon Perth as their first stop of an Australian tour with a phenomenally talented cast…and it is a groovy time, man. The musical has aged well, with the central themes around unnecessary violence, senseless war, nonsensical racism, and the need for gender equality and freedom still as relevant today as they were in the 1960s. While this makes for a wonderfully enduring and relatable production, there is certainly something disheartening about the fact that we haven’t really come so far in 50 years, which is worthy of reflection while revelling in the sheer joy HAIR and its tribe offers the audience.

HAIR is always a tonne of fun to watch, and this production delivers nothing less than a dreamy fantasy of freedom. The Grammy award-winning score features well-known and loved numbers which leave the toes tapping and an irrepressible urge to dance in your seat. And if you should feel that urge, do it. This is not stuffy theatre and is certainly not suitable for the prudish or the easily offended. After all, as many know, there’s that wonderful moment of complete nudity and openness of hearts onstage in the first act, and endless love for drug use. Leave your sensibilities at the door and don’t let the man get you down. This is anti-establishmentarianism at its most pure and animated.

Opening on Broadway in 1968 and first shown in Australia in 1969, this musical has a rich history which is celebrated wholeheartedly with a majority of Australians on stage and behind the scenes. Directed by Cameron Menzies and featuring multiple Logie award winner Hugh Sheridan as lead hippie Berger, with Australian Idol Paulini as Dionne, the stellar cast are consistently remarkable throughout.

However, Sheridan and Paulini are positively overshadowed by standout performances from the true stars of the show. Between Matthew Manahan as the lovable Claude, grappling with being drafted to Vietnam, the wonderfully engaging Angelique Cassamatis as the powerful, pregnant Jeannie in an age of open love, and New York native Harris M Turner putting a sassy spin on Hud, it’s tough to choose a favourite. But, given that Matthew Manahan was glassed just the night prior to this performance, it is worth noting that he is a consummate professional. His delivery of conscientious objector Claude is, without doubt, the most palpably believable, captivating presence on stage and as a performer, Manahan is most certainly one to watch.

The set design is minimal, but the use of scaffolding allows appropriate freedom to truly celebrate the spirit of the work through the use of bodies on scaffolding to create a set. Hessian billowed then was laid over the scaffolding by the actors in varying forms according to the mood required.

Sadly, the sound was disappointing in parts and audience members uniformly complained that leads were difficult to hear, as beautiful moments faded into the background. Hopefully, these are merely teething problems and this improves as the season continues.

HAIR’s 2019 tour has begun with a bang and is a much-needed escape to an age where peace, love and understanding were shouted for loudly by the loving and long-haired. Follow your bliss, get on the bus to His Majesty’s Theatre and make love, not war. Peace.