Director: Andrew Carn
Choreographer: Michael Burnie
Book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni
Music by Galt MacDermot
Cast: Brett Travis, Glen North, Jessica Joy Dyer, Michael Moore, Oludaré Bernard, Nadine Kühn, Elizabeth Wyld, Shannone Dionne, Devin Holloway
Seen on: 28.2.2016
While the Vietnam war rages around them, the tribe – led by Berger (Brett Travis), Claude (Glen North) and Sheila (Jessica Joy Dyer) – prefers to spend their time getting high, enjoying their sexual freedom and generally refusing to be brought into this war. But refusal only goes so far – and when Claude receives his draft notice, he doesn’t know whether he will actually dare to burn it.
This production of Hair didn’t really manage to convince me. The music is great – of course – but I wasn’t particularly happy with either the cast or the direction of this version. Still, the music does go a very long way.
It’s not the first time I saw the stage version and it’s been probably a decade since I last saw the film. But I have to readjust myself every time when it’s not the film version I see. It’s simply so present in my head, with all the changes it made to the original version, I actively have to remind myself what I’m going to see. I’m telling you all this, because it does impact my view on the show. Whatever else the case, it always takes me a few songs to get into this – to me – parallel universe of events.
In this case that process wasn’t helped by the fact that I was very much irritated by the presence of several uniformed police men watching the crowd (the crowd here being mostly older middler class couples) which is really not normal for Austrian theater productions, implying that people who watch leftist musicals about pot must be leftist extremists or something. That presence was probably not the productions fault. But what was their thing was the way they ran through the first few songs, basically making a concert out of the musical, barely giving us time to get to know the characters or what’s going on. It feels like they would have liked to cut a few of the songs, but didn’t dare and therefore went through them as quickly as possible.
Also annoying as hell was the fact that they took advantage of having a German native speaker in the cast (Nadine Kühn) by translating some of the dialogues into German. While I’m not against translations, by all means (though I am suspicious of them), what they did was leave the original dialogue and then just have Kühn repeat the best or most poignant moments in German. And that simply got on my nerves. Make it either or, this doubling down is simply disruptive to the flow.
Finally I wasn’t completely sold on the cast either – particularly Glen North just missed the tone and the notes a couple of times, though he wasn’t the only one by far. Could be that they were just having an off night, but it did leave me disappointed.
But I don’t know how bad a production has to be to make the musical stop working – and this one was a very long way from that point. The music is simply wonderful, it’s funny and touching and there is just no way I can go through it without goosebumps and tears (Walking in Space will rip my heart to shreds every single fucking time). So even if wasn’t the best version ever, I still had a very nice night.