Left – Renee Pope Munro, Gina Mets, Ashley Rousetty. Photo – Sean Higgins
As a self-confessed musical theatre geek, I’m embarrassed to admit that before last night I had never experienced the mind-altering magic that is Hair. Walking into the theatre at the always-glorious Chapel off Chapel with the wide-eyed innocence of a baby deer, I was met with flowers and greetings of love and peace. Cast interaction with the audience purposely smashed down the fourth wall and managed to include everyone from technician to performer and all the patrons in between.
Audience participation is a risky tactic, as many attend the theatre purely as voyeurs not participants and yet, with a musical like Hair this works. Audiences are immediately drawn into the hippy commune and their world of free love, equality and excessive drug use. This seemingly effortless immersion into the story and its characters is a sign of great theatre.
Strong performers make up the ensemble cast and everyone has their moment to shine. Individually and as a group the cast were exceptional vocalists, the sheer range and genre of Hair a testament to both the performers and the original score by Galt MacDermott.
The 20-strong cast filled the chapel with booming authenticity as they brought the summer of love to 2013, with all the naivety of a teenager caught up in the revolution and the revelation of life, love and everything that comes with it.
Once viewed as controversial by 1960s standards, the themes of free love and war protest now edge towards cheesy in the mature naughties. In truth, many of Hair’s messages are just as relevant now as they were in 1968. It is timely that on the same day as Hair was playing out the repercussions and discriminations of homosexuality in 1968 that the UK passed the bill to allow homosexual couples to marry in 2013.
The incredibly energetic and brave cast of Stage Art's Hair embrace the 1960s clichés so completely that they find the truth within the stereotypes and make the story ever more compelling with their performance.
Leading man Claude, (Ashley Rousetty) is every inch the troubled teenager torn between falling in line and joining the Vietnam troops or the hedonistic lifestyle of the commune.
Joined by his right hand man Berger, (Sam Kitchen) the oversexed, over drugged narcissist and his tribe of free-wheeling, all feeling, non conforming hippies, Claude embarks on a very different coming of age story.
The incredible ensemble cast kept the pace moving and the stage alive with sound and colour. One of the standout performances came from tribe member Zenya Carmellotti, whose roots and blues tones are awe-inspiring. A few sound glitches took away from some of the bigger moments in the show, but the stellar cast and pounding rock soundtrack was a pleasure to behold.
Hair is an absolute classic piece of musical theatre and has been brought to life by Stage Art with truth, integrity and joy. What more could you want from a musical?
Stage Art presents
Director Robbie Carmellotti
Venue: Chapel off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St Prahran
Dates: 31 Jan – 17 Feb, 2013
Times: 8pm Wed – Sat 8pm, Sat & Sun matinee 2pm
Tickets: $46.50 Full, $41.50 Concession, Groups of 10+, Family $166,
Bookings: 03 8290 7000 | www.chapeloff.chapel.com.au
PLEASE NOTE: Hair contains Nudity, Adult Themes, Smoking On Stage and Course Language.
Auslan interpreted shows: Friday 8 Feb and Saturday 9 Feb 8pm.
AS PART OF 2013 MIDSUMMA FESTIVAL