Perfectly titled, Hair is centered around the age of Aquarius, the 60’s. This love-rock musical follows a tribe of teenage hippies as they discover who they are and stand up for what they believe in. The ringleader Berger, played by Ohio-native Steel Burkhardt, led his “brothers and sisters” through New York’s East Side. Between the protests, tripping out, and being with the tribe, Claude is faced with a dilemma. Once he is drafted, does he burn his draft card in protest? Where does he belong in this world? Marshal Kennedy Carolan, the understudy for Claude, beautifully aided the audience in understanding the turmoil many young men had to confront. The entire cast was so talented and matched each other’s energy on stage. Each individual created an interesting character that interacted with fellow performers and the audience in unique ways.
Michael McDonald created the costumes for this incredible show. Each performer wore an outfit that emulated the 1960’s while maintaining a realistic appearance. Instead of using the expected tie-dye, McDonald utilized patterns that reflected the era. The lighting, designed by Kevin Adams, also added to the ambience of Hair. A large sun, resembling the Hair logo, created the backdrop for the entire show. Throughout the musical the sun changed colors which transitioned the cast from drug-induced hallucinations to hippie gatherings.
Compared to the greasers of the 50’s, this generation had radically different views on race, education, drugs, sex, authority, government power, and hair. These opposing opinions are wonderfully expressed through songs like “Sodomy” and “I’m Black”. Afros and crew cuts became the visual representation of the difference in beliefs. By glancing at an individual with a wild mane you could understand that they did not support the draft and that they believed people should “make love, not war”. Never before and possibly never again will an entire generation be defined by their hair.
For those who witnessed the 1960’s, this musical presents a nostalgic legacy, while maintaining the integrity of this decade. For those who did not, be prepared to be enveloped by a musical that does not include certain clichés of the decade. Leave your preconceived notions at the door, let your hair down, and enjoy the experience.