Following their triumphant production of Parade, the Hope Mill Theatre pull it out of the bag again with their spectacular performance of Hair.
The iconic show has been revived in the intimate fringe theatre that opened last year in Manchester. Originally opening in 1967, Hair broke musical theatre boundaries with it’s outrageous and radical themes combined with powerful rock music. It tells the story of a tribe of hippies that are anti-war and preach their desperation for peace and love through music. Politically, the production is incredibly relevant and many of the core messages in the show are still important. Ultimately, they are a group of young people that want to be free, without the constraints of society.
Leading the cast, Robert Metson provides a commanding performance as Claude, a young guy who is fighting between enlisting in the army and joining the hippy tribe. With long flowing hair, he exudes the hippie vibes which is evident through his strong characterisation. Despite his humorous musicals numbers that are performed passionately, he also touches on the more emotional side of the ongoing internal battle in his head.
Alongside him, his best friend Berger (Ryan Anderson) is a leader of the tribe. His opening number Donna sets the tone for the rest of the production, as he brings an abundance of energy and charisma to the stage. Similarly, Laura Johnson who plays Sheila provides an outstanding performance. Her stage presence is remarkable, as even during her less energetic scenes, she completely captures the audience. Not to mention, her solo number Easy To Be Hard which is beautifully emotive.
The vocal talent in the production is striking. Each solo number is dynamic, but when the cast come together for the ensemble numbers, the performance becomes completely electric. Shekinah Mcfarlane stands out with her unbelievable vocals, she riffs and belts with exquisite technique. Similarly, Natalie Green who plays Cassie has astounding vocals, she switches between different styles throughout the production, showcasing her exceptional versatility. McFarlane, Green and Johnson all blend together masterfully in the opening of the final number Let The Sun Shine In.
It’s an exuberant production bursting with flavour, which is reflected on stage and in the timely costumes. Walking into the Hope Mill Theatre feels like a step back in time as the floor is covered in grass and the walls plastered with colour. Musically, the production is excellent. Gareth Bretherton leads the band that perform live on stage, becoming part of the action and creating a vibe which is echoed in the organic choreography and effortlessly natural movement.
With a sensational finale as the cast let the sun shine in, watching Hair at the Hope Mill Theatre is a completely spirit-lifting experience.
***** 5 stars