“Hair” brings love, locks and liberation to Rider

By Christian McCarville

One of the most interesting and unique musicals in the world of theater is “Hair.” The musical originally opened on Broadway in April 1968. The show was monumental for its racially diverse cast and use of rock music, defining the genre that came to be known as “rock musical.”

To the excitement of many, this production will come to Rider’s campus beginning on Nov. 20. Performances will also take place on Nov. 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m., Nov 23 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 24 at 2 p.m. This musical will be performed by students in Rider’s musical theater program and will take place in the Yvonne theater. It will be directed by Robin Levine.

Tickets for the show can be purchased at the door or ordered online. They will be $25 for adults and $20 for seniors and non-Rider students. Students at Rider can purchase their ticket at a discounted price of $5.

The musical itself is emblematic of the late 1960s and the rise of the hippie counterculture. The plot is centered around the character, Claude, alongside his friend Berger and roommate Sheila. 

Senior musical theater major Dante Pereto will play Berger in the production.“Berger is one of the leaders of the tribe along with Claude, but whereas Claude is purely the intellect, Berger is fully ego. He serves as this kind of leader that truly embraces his freedom in every possible way, good or bad,” said Pereto.

They are all members of the “tribe” which is a political hippie group living in New York during the “Age of Aquarius.” They struggle with many themes that were prevalent in the 1960s, such as the sexual revolution and anti-war sentiments. 

Claude also deals with social and political pressures emphasized by his conservative parents. Claude must ultimately decide if he should accept the draft and serve in Vietnam or avoid it like his friends have. 

Junior technical theater major and stage manager Nicole Nilsson believed “Hair” to be an important production for 2019 despite the show premiering in the late ‘60s.

“So many of the issues we spoke about in the ‘60s are a problem today,” Nilsson said. “It reminds people that we still have these problems to solve. It is a show that handles our society in a way that highlights what our human nature wants and what we are doing. We can see parallels of then and now.”

Some of the issues discussed, Nilsson notes, include wartime struggles in America, racial diversity and protesting, amongst others.

“I have learned quite a bit from this process actually. It’s amazing how this show resonates still so strongly 50 years later that it moves me to tears during our last song on stage every night,” said Pereto. “As an actor, it’s really helped me learn how to be vulnerable on stage for a whole audience to see, but more than that, it’s shown me how important these pieces we perform can be. It’s shown me how important it is to spread love to others, because in the end, all we have is each other.”

Published in the 11/20/13 edition.

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