You could probably feel the good vibrations all the way down Shaftesbury Avenue. The entire New York “tribe” which made Diane Paulus’ revival of Hair such a Tony Award winning triumph on the other side of the pond is now oversexed, overjoyed, and over here… at the Gielgud Theatre. For the youth of our nations still at war there’s now every chance we won’t be hearing so much of the hard-to-fathom words (for those of us of a certain age) “Hair? What’s Hair?” It’s only the defining musical for social change in the 1960s and this is the only production in subsequent decades that hasn’t placed the show in “inverted commas”. It’s a blast – from the past – but it’s still a wake-up call for the future. And the way this exhilarating staging and its wonderful cast comes at you in delirious waves of intensity is beyond irresistible.
Galt MacDermot’s gloriously rocky off-kilter score and Gerome Ragni and James Rado’s wacky big-hearted book and lyrics are astonishingly durable and to hear a singer like Caissie Levy feel the love with a song (perhaps the greatest in the score) like “Easy to be Hard” was in a word “scorching”. It’s joy that has been missing from previous revivals of Hair and whilst the days are just as dark in far off conflicts there is something about the hopefulness and, yes, love of this revival that makes it indelible. The little old lady that joined the on-stage dance-in at the close was still as vociferous as any of us to “Let the Sunshine In”…. and the chorus of affirmation just kept building and building and building…..