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Cover of Hair programme

The Old Vic, London
14 September 1993 to 20 November 1993
Role: Claude

In the 25th Anniversary production of Hair, written by James Rado and Gerome Ragni (book and lyrics) and Galt MacDermot (music), John played the pivotal role of Claude, alongside Paul Hipp and Sinitta. The revival ran for only two months but the joyful music was a hit with critics and the cast, especially John, received favourable reviews.

During the production, John had time off to prepare for his new role as a presenter on BBC 1's Saturday morning show, Live and Kicking.

Press Reviews

"There is a genuine sweetness to John Barrowman's doomed Claude"
The Vancouver Sun (British Columbia)

"Glasgow's John Barrowman is a personable, athletic, and wholly likeable hero."
The Herald (Glasgow)

Age of Aquarius dawns at Old Vic

One of the most beautifully restored theatres in the world, the Old Vic, is to be 'desecrated' for the revival this September of the Sixties taboo-breaking musical Hair.

Graffiti will adorn the hallowed proscenium arch. Fire escapes will climb across the stage and the side-boxes have been turned into burnt-out buildings in the Bronx.

The metallic stage itself, comprising an inner and outer revolve, will spill out into the auditorium to the depth of eight rows in the stalls, to provide an apt context for songs of protest.

Paul Hipp, the first Buddy, leads a cast that includes John Barrowman, now in Chichester appearing in an acclaimed revival of the thriller Rope, and pop singer Sinitta.

Hoots of approval greeted director Michael Bogdanov's definition of the show at the start of rehearsals as "one of the great anti-war musicals of all time". They came not only from the cast but from the men who made the show, the still hippie-styled lyricist James Rado and the conservatively-dressed composer Galt McDermot, now white-haired.

"Hair is a musical of the future," declared Bogdanov. "If it is about the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, it is about the uttering in of 2,000 years of peace.

"It is about the embracing of an ideology for our time. I would hate to be around when the barbed wire goes up around the last thatched cottage in England."

But he was aware too of Hair's original significance. He was at the Shaftesbury Theatre for the first night of Hair 25 years ago, "the night after censorship was abolished".

He remembered cheering the four-letter words and the brief 15-seconds of nudity "because they symbolised the re-establishment of freedom of speech and the breaking of taboos".

But he warned the cast of two problems in presenting Hair, the hippie hymn to drugs and free love, in the Nineties. They were hard drugs and Aids. Sodomy has become holy orgy. Heroin and cocaine are replaced by Mary Jane, a euphemism for marijuana.

Evening Standard, London, 20 July 1993

John as Claude