GIMME HAIR: The musical Hair is back in Brisbane.
GIMME HAIR: The musical Hair is back in Brisbane.

Gimme a head with Hair!

IT'S BEEN 50 years since the tribal rock musical Hair sent Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Peterson into a spin over its full-frontal nudity and use of four-letter words.

Brought to Australia by the legendary Harry M Miller and hugely controversial because of its sexual liberation themes, Hair premiered in at The Metro Theatre in Kings Cross in 1969. Complete with bell-bottoms, trippy tunes and the infamous nude scene it pushed many boundaries and launched the careers of Reg Livermore, John Waters and Marcia Hines.

Joh banned the record in Queensland on the grounds of blasphemy and launched police raids to seize copies from record shops. Somehow the record still found its way into my house.

Now Hair is back, complete with the nude scene and non-politically correct language. Maverick theatre Producer, David M Hawkins is touring this timeless tale of revolution and radicalism in Australia starring Hugh Sheridan, Paulini and Prinnie Stevens. There are two performances at HOTA - Home of the Arts on the Gold Coast on October 11 and 12.

Brisbane local and one of the original 1969 cast members, Berys Marsh (aka Bes Marshall), played Sheila in the Sydney production for two years and Jeannie in the Melbourne production for a few months. She recalls how Hair changed her life.

"My friends thought Hair an unusual undertaking for a squarish thirtyish non-singer/dancer, but hey, whatever!" said Berys.

"My parents, however, were totally appalled when I broke the news to them, particularly as Queensland's Premier Joh had chosen that particular day to ban the record.

"Hair opened in June 1969 amid rumours of bomb threats, police raids, and jail for its performers. None of this seemed to ruffle the cast, but I can't speak for the management."

Berys says that after the opening things became somewhat calmer, and she noticed a gradual change in audiences.

"The smart young crowds were morphing into busloads from the outer suburbs. Hair seemed to have become a bridge between the counterculture and straight Australia. To a great extent, it swept away the remnants of 50s mentality and morality."

"My parents did eventually travel from Brisbane to see me in the show. They absolutely adored it, although my mother said later to me, privately, "A woman of your age shouldn't have to do things like that on stage!"

Although she has many happy memories of the show, there is one thing that happened to her own hair during the production Berys has never forgotten.

"I was told I didn't look freaky enough and sent off to get an Afro perm. I had this incredible ginger frizz for about a month until the whole lot broke off at the roots."

Find out more about Hair at hairthemusical.com.au.


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