As previously tipped (See The Goss, 22 Sep 2005), the Gate Theatre’s radical new version of Broadway musical Hair has extended its limited season at the 70-seater ahead of a hoped-for transfer. The production - which sold out its original dates, from 22 September 2005 to 8 October (previews from 12 September), some weeks ago - has now added three weeks to its schedule, taking it up to 29 October.

In Hair, a love triangle between shy Claude and his friends Sheila and the charismatic Berger is played out amongst a group of New York drop-outs called The Tribe, with a foreign war looming. The musical has a book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado and music by Galt MacDermot. The new production – which is the Gate Theatre’s first-ever foray into musical theatre - has been radically updated to a contemporary setting, with hard-hitting references to the Iraq War and President Bush, by director Daniel Kramer in collaboration with the original writers.

Charles Aitken stars as Claude with Joanna Ampil (Miss Saigon) as Sheila and Kevin Wathen as Berger. The Gate cast also features Gary Amers, Stuart Armfield, Miriam Elwell-Sutton, Kate Gillespie, Robyn Isaac, Connor McAllister, Sean Parkins, Craig Perry, Lee Reynolds, Golda Rosheuvel, Laura Selwood, Graham Tudor and Nancy Wei George.

The production is choreographed by Ann Yee and designed by Soutra Gilmour, with costumes by Penelope Challen, lighting by Charles Balfour, sound by Mick Potter, musical supervision by Stephen Brooker and musical direction by Steve Hill.

Further ahead, at another fringe theatre, Southwark’s Menier Chocolate Factory, Dr Foster, a new 55-minute musical comedy seen earlier this year at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Fringe Festival in Stratford-upon-Avon, will have its London premiere in a limited three-week season from 20 October to 5 November 2005.

Written and directed by Adrian Schiller, Dr Foster is the story of one’s woman’s determined quest to sell her soul. Rachel Pickup and Zubin Varla (Jesus Christ Superstar), both currently appearing in the RSC production of Julius Caesar revived at the Lyric Hammersmith by David Farr, star as Dr Foster and Mephistopheles. The cast of 12 also comprise Sergio Covino as Arch Angel Gabriel as well as Emily Watcher, Anna Lowe, Sophie Malt, Eliza Adams, Becky Howell, Frankie Sibthorpe and Laura McAlpine.

Dr Foster will run nightly at 10.45pm following the Menier’s main production, the Ryan Craig play What We Did to Weinstein, which continues until 12 November 2005.

- by Terri Paddock