'Hair' revival cut short by pounds 15,000-a-week losses

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The Independent Online
THE AGE of Aquarius is to end in just over two weeks. Peace, universal love and an extra pounds 300,000 investment were not enough to sustain the musical Hair in the brutally realistic Nineties.

The revival of the classic hippie musical at the Old Vic theatre, London, will close on 20 November after two months. Despite the cast and musicians agreeing to take a 33 per cent pay cut, the show was losing pounds 15,000 a week.

Twenty-five years after Hair first opened in London, modern audiences were unshocked by nudity, embarrassed by exhortations to smoke pot and baffled as to why anyone should drop out at a time of high unemployment. Critics agreed that it would have been kinder to have left Hair to linger in the memories of old hippies, many now ensconced in the Establishment.

Although it has been playing to three-quarters full houses, most bought cut-price tickets. David Mirvish, the producer who owns the Old Vic, invested an extra pounds 300,000 to keep the pounds 1.5m show going. Andrew Leigh, the executive producer, said yesterday: 'The company's generosity gave us a stay of execution but sadly business shows no sign of building.'

Lynsey de Paul, the television presenter and former pop star, who attended the revival's first night, said: 'Back in 1968, Hair spoke for us all. We were all young and anti- establishment and the Vietnam war was actually happening around us. Now we're all mums and dads and we've all got respectable jobs.'

Despite the involvement of James Rado, one of the co-authors, the revival never had the freewheeling feel of the original. All but five of the 26 actors and actresses wear hippy wigs over their Nineties haircuts, hardly the spirit of the theme song that exults in 'the beauty, the splendour, the wonder of my hair'.

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