Melbourne, June 8.
Harry M. Miller's production of hair has finally reached Melbourne, complete with nude scene and four-letter words, in what was probably the most publicized local firstnight. Not only did the opening live up to expectations, but was followed by a theatre party thrown by Miller which is likely to be the talk of Melbourne for some time.
The pre-opening publicity was such as melbourne has never known, even for My fair lady. Articles and photographs on hair, members of the cast and principally Miller abounded in all the papers. There was also an hour long television show on the Aussie production of Hair in which Miller, designer, stager and cast were informally interviewed and scenes from the musical depicted, without mention of the nudity or profanity.
At the opening, there were crowds outside the theatre to see the audience arrive. Most of the audience had apparently seen productions of Hair overseas or in Sydney. This edition was staged by a young Australian, Jim Sharman, who previously directed the Sydney, Boston and Japanese versions. He replaced David Toguri, whom Miller had originally engaged for the assignment.
There are many many changes in the new production. A young Aussie designer, BRian Tompson, has used old washing machines, tv sets, radio and lawn mowers around the stage. There are more lighting effects, such as a curved rainbow of many colored lights over the prescenium arch, as well as new, more elaborate costumes.
The performances seem stronger than when Hair opened in Sydney nearly two years ago. The singing is more audible, perhaps due to improved amplification. However, a major asset is the performance of an Aussie actor, Reg Livermore, who was not with the company when it opened in Sydney.
Miller has nine coaches waiting outside the theatre after then opening to take 309 specially invited guests to an undisclosed destination. A champagne glass was handed to each guest boarding a coach, with the gold inscription reading "Hair, Melbourne, May 21, 1971" Champage was served on the coaches as they went through the Melbourne streets.
The procession finally arrived at a dairy farm on the outskirts of the city. More champge was served, and juke boxes and an orchestra created deafening sound, while old films were shown. The guest list read like a "Who's Who" of Australia.
The next days papers featured accounts of Hair, with the audience getting more space than the show itself. All the critics, in various ways, gave the show the thumbs up and it should equal its Sydney run. No action is contemplated from the suthorities on banning the nude scenes and the four letter words. However, in view of the history of "Boys In The Band" in Melbourne that could yet happen.
Besides Hair his production, Miller has Butterflier Are Free running at the Playbox here. In addition he is presenting Aussie satirist Barry Humphries in a one man show at the Playbox, Sydney. He has other stage productions snf a picture in preparation.
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