Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hair (The SOB Revisit)

Hair (The SOB Revisit) – Gielgud Theatre, London, United Kingdom

***1/2 (out of ****)

Fresh off a long overnight flight to London, hardly sleeping a wink, I did something risky I had never dared to do before.

Instead of going straight from the airport to my hotel to freshen up (or nap), I opted to zip directly into the West End and purchase a ticket for the Thursday matinee performance of Hair. All fears of dozing off quickly parted. With most of the original Broadway cast intact, Hair reinvigorated me like a desperately needed shampoo, leaving me tingling from my head right down to my toes.

Performing in the much more intimate Gielgud Theatre, the cast shines with more luster than ever. Aside from Will Swenson’s added riffing on the kinds of Berger he is near the top of the show -- fueled in part by a late comer in the audience -- I noticed very few differences from what I had seen on Broadway just a year ago.

However, seeing the show again has made me appreciate the incredible talents of Andrew Kober in his various guises throughout. This actor blew me away and left me wondering how I had neglected mentioning him in my review of the Broadway show.

As the Messianic yet conflicted Claude, Gavin Creel is as strong and astonishing as ever. I’m not sure if it was my jetlag, but his performance sent chills down my spine even more this time around.

After working together for well over a year as part of a true tribe, this cast is firing on all cylinders, making Hair even more powerful than I remembered it one year ago. Hair proved to be just the buzz I needed.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

In keeping with the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value in exchange for this post.

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At 16 May, 2010, Blogger Esther said...

Hey SOB, I'm so happy you picked Hair to do something you'd never done before and that you enjoyed it so much. As you know, it's one of my favorite musicals ever and I think this is an energetic, compelling production. To me, it really captures the spirit of the '60s as well as the decade's tumultuous events. I hope British audiences are enjoying it.

(Also, I didn't know they had Thursday matinees in the West End.)

At 16 May, 2010, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...


When I learned that they offered a Thursday matinee, I held out hope that my flight would arrive with plenty of time to get to the theatre, and sure enough, it did.

I'm very glad I saw the show again. It added significantly more depth than I experienced the first time around.

At 17 May, 2010, Blogger Kevin Daly said...

Andrew Kober was a standout to me in NY. He's really quite excellent.

Glad to hear the show is still superb in the West End!

At 17 May, 2010, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Not just holding up well. To me it was even better.

At 18 May, 2010, Blogger Linda said...

I'm so glad you were able to revisit the show. This post made me a little sad when I realized I will never see this superb cast again in Hair, but I am looking forward to seeing where they all go from here. And I, like Kevin, am happy that you recognized Andrew Kober. He's not only incredibly talented, but very dedicated to the show and his fans. Do you think that the show was better because they've been working together for so long and seem closer as a tribe, or was there anything else in the production that made it better for you?

At 18 May, 2010, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Linda, I believe whenever you see a show a second time, it either loses something or you notice things you didn't the first time. In this case, it was the latter, plus (and it's a very big plus), I do believe that this cast has become even tighter throughout their experience together. That was demonstrated throughout the show.

At 19 May, 2010, Blogger Sarah B. Roberts said...

Oh not sleeping on that overnight flight is so hard- good for you for braving it! Probably anything more serious would have been detrimental to staying away! Ugh I hate how they refer to themselves as a "tribe". I like the music very much and respect the history of the show, I just don't care for the show itself. If they only conveyed a real reason for being opposed to the war - it just comes off across as it's an interruption to their drug stoked orgies.

The best Hair to me is the Actors Fund Benefit Concert recording - it's a dream cast of voices and is sublime. And of course, my favorite is the few seconds of Walking in Space on the movie soundtrack - it's Betty Lynn Buckley! Listen at 1:55 on this

At 19 May, 2010, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

To be honest, the first time I saw Hair on stage, I hated it. But that was long before the latest Broadway revival.

By the time I took it in, I realized that I'd have to take it for what it is: essentially an extended vaudeville show set in the 60s with hippies singing a tuneful score.

Something about seeing it in London - perhaps my jetlag? - made me come as close as I think I ever will come to nearly loving the show.


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