Saturday, September 29, 2012

HAIR The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical

Queanbeyan City Council,
The Q  - Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre until 6th October.
Reviewed by Bill Stephens

Set in the hippie counter culture of the 1960’s sexual revolution, with its depictions of  illegal drug use, strong anti-war message, and famous nude seen, “Hair”  sparked outrage and protest when it first surfaced in 1968. Many will still find it a confronting experience.

Director Stephen Pike, perhaps wisely, has somewhat sweetened the pill in this confident, spectacularly-staged production, and while the issues remain relevant, the passion is somewhat diluted.  

The nude scene is tastefully staged. All the familiar songs are superbly sung and danced by the large, attractive ensemble of hippies who make up “the tribe”. Choreographer Jordon Kelly has devised a series of inventive, eye-dazzling “happenings”, and though eschewing the familiar astringent guitar riffs for a more brassy sound, Geoff Grey’s tight band provides punchy accompaniment.  

There are stand-out performances aplenty, particularly from Maigan Fowler as the pregnant, spaced-out Jeanie, quite wonderful in “Air”, Kitty McGarry, luminous in the poignant and silly “Frank Mills, Joanna Licuanan singing up a storm in “I’m Black”, and from James Court (Woof), Will Huang (Hud) Rebecca Harman (Sheila) and Laura Dawson (Jasmine).

However, “Hair” is essentially about the relationship between tribe leader Claude and free spirit, Berger.  Despite engaging performances from Pete Ricardo and Tim Stiles  in these roles, both  have yet to  discover  the  passionate fire at the core of both characters necessary to allow them to dominate the production.
                   (This review appears in CITY NEWS . Edition  September 27 to October 3)



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