The production marks the first time that an entire Broadway cast - which includes Gavin Creel (previously seen in the West End as Bert in Mary Poppins) as Claude, Caissie Levy as Sheila and Will Swenson as Berger - has opened a musical in the West End, imported care of impresario Cameron Mackintosh.
A spokesperson told Whatsonstage.com that Mackintosh and the US producers decided last night not to recast when the Broadway company finish their London engagement – just “14 weeks to see this extraordinary company and a bit of West End history”, he added.
In late 1960s New York City, Claude falls in with a group of hippies called the Tribe, led by Berger. But their free love and drug-enhanced happiness is disrupted by Claude’s Vietnam draft orders. Hair has book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado and music by Galt MacDermot. The score includes “Aquarius”, “Ain’t Got No”, “I Got Life”, “Good Morning Starshine”, "Let the Sun Shine In" and the title song.
This production, directed by Diane Paulus, was first seen in September 2007 at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, where its run was extended three times before it transferred to Broadway’s Al Hirschfield Theatre, where it won a Tony Award for Best Musical Revival. Hair has scenic design by Scott Pask, costume design by Michael McDonald, lighting design by Michael Chybowski, sound design by Acme Sound Partners and choreography by Karole Armitage.
In 1967, the premiere of Hair was the show that officially opened the Public Theater’s long-time home on Lafayette Street in New York and has the distinction of being the first Off-Broadway show to transfer to Broadway, where it ran for 1,873 performances from April 1968.
The musical then opened at the West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre in 1968, causing a sensation as the first musical to open after the abolition of British stage censorship care of the Lord Chamberlain. That UK premiere ran for 1,998 performances, only forced to close because the ceiling collapsed at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Hair was also famously made into a 1979 film, directed by Milos Forman and starring John Savage, Treat Williams and Beverley D’Angelo.
No further productions have yet been announced for the Gielgud.