James Rado Nods to Current Politics with Additions to 50th Anniversary HAIR at The Vaults
Opening tonight 11 October is the new production of the first protest musical HAIR at The Vaults.
Before they took on the project, 85-year-old Tony- and Grammy Award-winning writer/lyricist of HAIR James Rado told young producer Katy Lipson and young director of HAIR Jonathan O'Boyle, "I'd like this production to have the definitive script of HAIR - there's never been one in 50 years."
Scroll down to see some of the new script lines, as well as programme notes from both O'Boyle and Rado!
New lyrics in Sheila's "Easy to be Hard":
''And don't you wonder how long we can take it
The way that we play and make fun of each other"
"I'm readin' the headlines, the world bloody brutal
The terrible torture, the horrible warfare"
New line nodding to Trump in Berger's "Be In":
"Keep America strong. Make America stronger. May God bring our nation victory."
In addition, for the first time, the song "Hippie Life," which was written for the movie of HAIR, has been included in a stage production.
Director O'Boyle also worked with Rado via Skype on the updated script for HAIR. Below is a programme note with quotes from both parties:
"HAIR was born from the real-life mad love affair of two young actors, and on stage it manifested as the characters Claude & Berger. Jerry Ragni & I were about the same age. Cast in a play in New York is how we met and three years later had a script in hand, bound in yellow leatherette with the letters of the title in gold. Jerry was on an Amtrak train coming back to NYC from Yale University in Connecticut. On that train was a well-known producer, Joe Papp who was opening a new Public Theater. Jerry gave the yellow & gold script to Joe, and one week later got a phone call from him saying he wanted to open the Public with it. The show you will see at The Vaults is the yellow & gold script evolved. A work of heart that was labored over delicately with huge inspiration from 1989 to 2017. (Jerry had begun the transformation with me.) The show you see here at The Vaults in London in 2017 is the world premiere of the evolved HAIR which I hope will take you deeper. That is the goal. IT is some kind of miracle that Jonathan O'Boyle showed up at the finishing touches." (Note: The real life mad love affair was between himself, James Rado, and co0writer Gerome Ragni; they went on to play the original Claude and Berger in 1967).
O'Boyle's programme notes read:
"I wish every mother and father in this theatre would go home and make a speech to their teenagers and say: Kids, be free, no guilt, be whoever you are, do whatever you want." - Script of HAIR, words from character Margaret Mead, 1967/2017.
The 32-year-old director writes: "The values and anxieties of the characters you see here in Hair today still resonate 50 years after the original production of Hair opened off-Broadway in 1967. Women's Equality, LGBTQ Rights, Ethnic Diversity, Black Lives Matter, Environmental Issues and perhaps one of the biggest issues that once again is pressing down on us - the threat of nuclear war. It makes me feel sad that all the issues people were shouting about back in the Summer of Love are still unresolved and remain part of our social conscience.
"Hair has been part of our conscience since the sixties and many of us know the show instinctively, without ever having seen a production. Many of the songs have been recorded by global icons and became hits in their own right. It felt right that we reinvent the show for a new generation and make our production as intimate and stripped back as possible.
"It's been a pleasure working with Jim Rado on a new and updated book for this production. Jim reached out to us after the production opened in Manchester, England at the Hope Mill Theatre last year (2016) and asked if we could have a chat about the possibility of revising some of the book and lyrics as he felt the draft that so many productions around the world were using didn't quite match the original authors ideas or indeed the original production. Of course I jumped at the chance to work with Jim (it felt like I was talking to an original Beatle of musical theatre - particularly as Hair has influenced so many other great musical theatre composers since the 1960s).
"Jim's input to the show has been invaluable and enlightening. Hearing first-hand accounts of the original production, stories of Galt MacDermot and Jim writing the show together and then having Jim sing Aquarius down the phone to me is a moment I won't forget in a hurry... I'll never forget the first email I received from Jim, signed 'the original Claude'. It made me smile and I instantly knew that having Jim on board would be a huge asset. Jim's new lyrics have deepened the shows meaning and strengthened the overall message they were trying to communicate. "
Andy Coxon plays the iconic role of Berger in the new 50th anniversary production of HAIR. The rock musical HAIR opened at London's fully immersive Off-West-End theatre, The Vaults, from Wednesday 4 October 2017 and is now to run to Saturday 13 January 2018, with a 50th Anniversary Gala set for Tuesday 17 October at 7.30pm.
The genuinely youthful cast brings the original protest musical to life, in the intimate theatre seating just 200, revealing every emotion up close and personal through HAIR's drug fuelled journey.
The cast for this thrilling, young and moving production of HAIR is: Daniel Bailey (Motown The Musical - Shaftesbury Theatre, The Lion King - Lyceum Theatre), Berger - Andy Coxon(Beautiful - The Carole King Musical, Les Miserables - West End, Mitch in Yank! - Charing Cross Theatre), ADAM DAWSON (Jet in West Side Story RSC Live - Stratford), ABIOLA EFUNSHILE (Urdang graduate 2017), Margaret Mead - Patrick George (Cats - UK tour), Hud - JAMMY KASONGO (Beautiful The Carole King Musical - Aldwych), Jeanie - Jessie May(Fiona in Blondel - The New Union Theatre, Rock Of Ages - UK tour). Returning to the production from the acclaimed Manchester run are: Cassie - Natalie Green (Wicked - UK tour), Sheila - Laura Johnson (Rizzo in Grease - UK tour), Dionne - SHEKINAH McFARLANE (Parade - Hope Mill Theatre, The Lion King - UK & International tour), Claude - Robert Metson (Ryan in Bear - Southwark Playhouse), Woof - Liam Ross-Mills (Les Miserables - West End, Ben in Ushers: The Front of House Musical - Charing Cross Theatre), Mary - KORYANN STEVENS (West Side Story - Live Nation) and Chrissy - KIRSTEN WRIGHT (Our Seasons End - The AC Group).
HAIR changed the face of musical theatre and is still ground-breaking at the age of 50. HAIR opened off-Broadway in 1967, and to open this new production off-West-End in 2017 is the perfect move for Hope Mill Theatre's acclaimed production, directed by Jonathan O'Boyle - as relevant now as it was in the 60s.
1967 and HAIR's hippie-hood youngsters live as The Tribe, in the East Village of New York: yearning to change the world, questioning authority and the American flag. They are wild, colourful, free, sexually liberated beautiful people who join in protest and song - under the shadow of the Vietnam War. Featuring classic hit songs: Aquarius, Let the Sun Shine In and Good Morning Star Shine - and the story of youth and war still resounds throughout the world making this a topical musical for the millennial generation. 2017 vividly sees the world protesting and marching, fighting for freedom of speech; from Trump to Brexit via Syria - the core spirit of HAIR.
Like a mini Woodstock, from the moment the audience arrive, The Vaults is transformed into a fully immersive 60s venue, with psychedelic, innovative creatives and hippie flower power, 60s themed drinks and snacks - everything needed for a legal high. The audience then move through to the seated theatre space for HAIR - the musical that changed the face of the modern musical.
Visit www.hair50.com for bookings and more information.
Photo Credit: Claire Bilyard