According to press materials, this is 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. Tickets for Hair go on sale this Friday, 20 November 2009, priced from £17.50 to £65.
The revival is produced in London by the Public Theater, in association with British impresario Cameron Mackintosh, who also owns the Gielgud Theatre. In 1967, 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 production ran for 1,998 performances, only forced to close because the ceiling collapsed at the Shaftesbury Theatre. More recently in London, it was revived at the Old Vic in 1993, with a cast including Sinitta, and radically reworked in a critically acclaimed studio production in 2005at the Gate Theatre, the first musical ever mounted at the 70-seater better known for its European work. Hair was also famously made into a 1979 film, directed by Milos Forman and starring John Savage, Treat Williams and Beverley D’Angelo.
Hair on Broadway. Photos by Joan Marcus.
When Claude arrives in late 1960s New York City, he falls in with a group of hippies called the Tribe, led by Berger, who falls in love with rich girl Sheila. 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” 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’s still running. It won this year’s 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 a press statement released today, Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis and producer Cameron Mackintosh both explained their very personal connections to the musical in London, and why it’s more relevant than ever before.
Oskar Eustis said: “I first saw Hair as a 14-year-old runaway in London in 1972. Dancing on stage at the Shaftesbury, I started to believe there was a place in the world for me, and those like me. To bring the Public\'s production of Hair back to London in 2010 means more to me than I can say.”
Cameron Mackintosh added: “Little did I think when I was the production runner on the original London production of Hair in 1968 that 41 years later I would be bringing the Public Theatre’s acclaimed new production back to London complete with its extraordinary Broadway cast. “Hair” has always been far more than a musical. It’s a celebration of life, love and freedom. When it originally opened, my friends who were never interested in the theatre flocked to see it because it mirrored their own sentiments, as peace, love and anti-war feelings were being expressed all over the world. Its success was not just theatrical but social.
“So I was amazed all these years later to find myself swept away again by the joyous electric exuberance and commitment of the current Broadway cast. The rejection of the war in Vietnam has now morphed into the world’s concern at what is happening in Afghanistan. A period musical is once again as contemporary as today’s headlines, and I’m very proud to help bring this production with its wonderful company into one of my theatres.”