Updated Hair Opens at London's Gate Theatre Sept. 22

By James Inverne
22 Sep 2005

The new London production of Hair has its press night at the 65-seat Gate Theatre in West London Sept. 22, with a gala opening to follow on Sept. 23.



The last time this musical was revived in the city was in 1991, when an Old Vic staging flopped. However, The Gate’s artistic director Thea Sharrock told Playbill.com that she thinks it is once again relevant in the wake of the Iraq War. And, the box office has so far demonstrated that audiences agree with her — the entire run is sold out, and there are ongoing talks to extend it.

It’s not Sharrock herself directing this show, but the 26-year-old American Daniel Kramer. In a career that has already seen him direct Simon Callow in Through The Leaves at Southwark and in the West End, and a well received production of Woyzeck at the Gate, Kramer has reportedly decided to update Hair to the modern day. According to The Guardian newspaper, the show now incorporates references to the London bombings, Iraq, Kyoto and even features cameos for George Bush and Tony Blair — and Kramer’s auditions took the form of political discussions.

In the newspaper, Kramer is quoted as saying that lyricist James Rado told him not to restrain himself: “Jim said that he really didn’t want me to hold back on it. He thought that if we were going to do this at all, we may as well be as radical as we could possibly be.” The nudity however, such a notorious element in the original, is still included.

The show’s (and the Gate’s) producer is Tali Perlman. Stephen Hill is musical director, with designs by Soutra Gilmour, lighting design by Charles Balfour and Mick Potter as sound designer. Choreography is by Ann Yee. The hair in Hair is by Vidal Sassoon.

The cast includes Charles Aitken, Gary Amers, Joanna Ampil, Stuart Armfield, Miriam Elwell-Sutton, Kate Gillespie, Robyn Isaac, Connor McAllister, Sean Parkins, Craig Perry, Lee Reynolds, Golda Rosheuvel, Laura Selwood, Graham Tudor, Kevin Wathen and Nancy Wei George. The 16 performers will be underscored by a four-strong band.

Next up for The Gate, Sharrock will direct Eugene O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones, which is set to open Nov. 21. That will precede the Old Vic’s turn at rare O’Neill, A Moon for the Misbegotten, to star Kevin Spacey in Sept. 2006.

For more information about Hair call (0)20 7229 5387 or visit www.gatetheatre.co.uk.