Northeastern's Hair Mixes Psychedelic and Political Vibes
March 23, 2018 | By Danae Bucci
Upon entering the Curry Studio Theatre, one is transported to a different decade — the 1960s to be exact. “Hair” is a politically-motivated musical taking place in New York City. “It’s all about the protests and the fight for freedom and love in the 1960s,” said Claire Moorer, a third-year theatre major who plays Chrissy, the youngest tribe member trying to find where she fits in. With smoke swirling in the dimly lit theater and incense fragrancing the air, the intimate setting had audience members clamoring prior to show time. Then, without much warning, the show began.
Cast members ran from all angles of the theater, singing the song “The Age of Aquarius” also commonly called “Let Sunshine In.” The actors, dressed in bell-bottom jeans, flowy skirts, and long locks of hair, made great use of the small theater as they danced.
After the abrupt start, Adam Thomas, a fifth-year physical therapy major, took the stage as Berger, a character known for lewd comments. Captivating the sold out crowd with his booming voice and emotive personality, he gave a convincing performance that he was indeed on phycadelics during the show, even mooning the crowd.
The show touched on a number of social issues from the ‘60s. Commenting on race, the Vietnam war, and feminism, the political activism reached its peak as Claude, played by Anthony Rodriguez, a fourth-year psychology major, struggled with the idea of burning his draft card, ending the scene suddenly by symbolically putting the fire out with the lights going black.
Another powerful moment from the play took place during a protest. Each actor held signs with sayings such as “Peace Now,” “Law and Order = Racism,” and “Is Your Son Next?” The entire play had a sense of liberation throughout, from the songs they sang, to the drugs they took, and even the infamous fully nude scene (done in tasteful low light.)
One portion with distasteful lighting, however, was when intense strobes were used in the second act. Cast members warned of the aggressive lights, but kept it in the play. “It’s pretty strong, pretty intense, I think it look great - however, if you know you will react to it in a not safe way, definitely use your best judgement,” said Christina Chen, a fourth-year theatre major who plays Jeanie, a pregnant tribe member who is in love with Claude.
Despite this, the play came full circle in the end. Instead of doing a traditional curtain call, the actors came back out fashioned with posters from social movements of today, including “Black Lives Matter,” “#MeToo,” and “Resist” among others. “It’s really applicable to today ... a lot of the protests are still happening whether it’s with gun control and women's rights and racial rights, those are all so applicable today,” Moorer said. “It’s important to see that while a lot has changed since then, a lot hasn’t.”
“Hair” runs in the Studio Theatre from March 22nd to April 1st.