Ellie Gavin || Campus Life Editor
This week, F&M’s Theatre, Dance, and Film Department will premiere their production of the 1967 Broadway musical, Hair. The production is directed by Associate Professor of Theatre Carol Davis.
The show, which is credited as being Broadway’s first rock musical and is set in New York City, follows a “tribe” of young, politically-active hippies who are coming-of-age while dealing with many cultural issues, including race, drugs, the environment, the sexual revolution, and the social and political unrest of the Vietnam War.
Davis says that the wide range of important social and political issues that the show deals with, and their relevance today, were part of the reason why she selected this show to be performed this Fall.
“This show touches on many issue that we are still fighting for today,” Davis said.
Davis acknowledged that producing such a show hasn’t been without its own set of unique challenges.
“Producing a musical involves so many people,” Davis said.
Hair has required a significant amount of time from the cast and crew, approximately 20 hours per week since the beginning of the semester. Hair has been particularly intense because almost every actor is on stage for most of the show.
Davis also notes that with the exception of one professional pianist, the cast and crew are completely composed of students, including a student conductor and student orchestra.
Junior Abbie Reed, who plays tribe-member Sheila, says that there was a moment when she faced some challenges with getting into character.
“There is a scene in the show where Berger yells at Sheila and ends up slapping her,” Reed said. “This scene is particularly difficult for me to act, not only because of the nature of the scene, but because Sheila is very submissive to Berger’s insults and then tells him that she adores him, which was something I found very difficult to do and to relate to. Though the scene was first difficult for me to act and still is at times, it has helped a lot to think about Sheila’s need for love, and that she will keep on giving it even if it is thrown in her face as Berger does, which is why this particular instance hurts so much for her.”
Reed emphasized that the themes explored in the show are still relevant to life today. “Although [the show] is about a specific time period and protests a specific war, the idea of love, acceptance, and peace that is conveyed through the show is applicable in any age and touches the hearts of a wide range of audience members,” Reed said.
“It not only brings together a cast of actors in a way I haven’t felt before, but it brings the audience into that feeling as well. It is funny, carefree, at times uncomfortable and shocking, and at other times tear-jerking, but altogether it is extremely powerful and it definitely sends a message.”
Part of that message is one of passion and activism.“Sheila shows a different side of the tribe in the sense that a lot of what happens in the show is fun and carefree, in which Sheila does participate, but she also travels for protests,” Reed said. “She helps to show us the side of the tribe that tries so hard to put a stop to the war.”
Davis also mentioned the depiction of young people as activists throughout the show. She points out that this was a time period in which individuals sacrificed greatly for their beliefs.
In order to help her actors capture that sense of sacrifice, Davis asked them to consider their own passions.
“I asked them to consider what they would fight for. What would you sacrifice going to class for?,” Davis said.
Hair will have four performances at the Roschel Performing Arts Center, opening on Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m. and closing with a Sunday matinee performance at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are available online now at http://www.fandm.edu/box-office.
Sophomore Ellie Gavin is the Campus Life editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.