"It’s hard to see how this production could be improved on. Festive family theatre rarely gets better than this." Nigel Smith for The Stage
Its been a surprisingly busy few weeks for me following on from a summer of outdoor events, some theatrical but most more rock and roll to be honest. I always look forward the summer around around spring time when I can't wait to get out side however usually around mid July I remember that the British weather isn't always kind to us on outdoor events and I long to get back in the warm dry confines of a theatre! Following on from Colchester's Wind in the Willows and Hope Mills fantastic production of Parade I had been looking forward to returning to Colchester for Dick Whittington when I was asked to look at co-designing Aria Entertainment's second production at Hope Mill, a revival of the musical Hair. I wasn't partially familiar with the show but on listening to the sound track the music is truly fantastic. I couldn't pass on an opportunity to work with Katy Lipson and Co over at Hope Mill along with some fabulous creatives.
The production is set in traverse with a five piece band and is musically directed by Gareth Bretherton and directed by the wonderful Jonathan O'Boyle. The show features a stella cast, some of whom Id worked with before. I was also looking forward to my first time co-designing a production with sound designer and composer Max Perryment.
This show, like others I have designed in Hope Mill presented some challenges, the space is compact and unique. having lots of open radio mics and a live band in the same room is always a challenge so careful mic placement and selection was always going to be crucial. Another challenge I hadn't backed on so much was the placement of the radio mic packs. Ive worked on shows before that are very physical and always found solutions for pack placement that has been reliable however these have always ben under costume. I won't spoil the show for those of you heading over to see it but there is a scene where the entire cast is completely naked! Director Jonathan and I had spoken about some pack positions that would create the smallest visual impact when viewed from the front or side but we soon discovered some of these where not conducive to the productions fantastic choreography by Hope Mills own William Whelton. The cast do a lot of rolling on the floor which did cause us to move some packs. My savour in production week was our set and costume designer Maeve Black (Ill never know how they design and create so much stuff in the time they have). We now have some ingenious mic pouches for some of the cast, a sort of tiny rucksack with elastic shoulder straps that from the front you can hardly see at all.
The show have been receiving some fantastic reviews from critics and audiences and Id love you to catch it. Hair runs at Hope Mill until December 3rd. Go see it!