Actors rehearsing dance number
A cast of 17 university staff, alumni and students are pulling together to stage 1968’s American tribal love-rock musical “Hair” April 19-24.
Directed by Professor Jeffrey Bleam, “Hair” was the first American rock musical when it hit Broadway in 1968. The production shocked the country with its themes of sex, drugs, rock music and political protest.
The show opens at 7:30 p.m. April 19 on the Performing Arts Center’s Center Stage. Performances are 7:30 p.m. April 19-23 and 2 p.m. April 24.
Parking is $3 after 6 p.m. in the 4th Avenue Parking Ramp.
“Hair” is a student production in the School of the Arts’ 2015-16 Creative Art Series. The 10 events in the second-annual series are designed to expand students’ experiences and the public’s perspectives by introducing them to new concepts and perceptions in the School of the Arts four disciplines — art, film, theater and music.
The cast is preparing to stage “Hair” by learning about the late ’60s. Much of the development is in helping 2016 students engage with the youth movements and ideals of the era, 30 years before today’s freshmen were born, Bleam said.
“We listened to music of the time period, and we looked at the work of some of the American experimental theatre troupes of the time which ‘Hair’ drew heavily from,” Bleam said.
“Our cast is a bizarre and beautiful collage of students, alumni and employees — of different majors, different colors, different sexualities and different flavors,” Bleam said. “While the show has some principle characters we roughly follow through a loose plotline, the real lead character of ‘Hair’ is the ‘tribe’ — the collective ensemble which yelps, melts, rises and sings depending on the fears or passions of any given moment.”
To build that needed element of trust, the cast has sat down and had candid discussions about the body, drug use, war, race and sex.
“This is the most honest and open cast I’ve ever worked with,” Bleam said. “I’ve seen people grow, take risks, fail and grow more. It seems that their relationships to the world and with other diverse and beautiful beings has been forever changed.”
Cast members are also getting creative musically. The music borrows from pop and acid rock and is almost operatic at times, so it uses different parts of the voice and a different type of breathing than traditional choral music. The play features 46 musical numbers, which means the cast is learning seven songs each rehearsal. “Hair” also features a more improvised and spontaneous style of dance, so the cast is learning only a basic structure for their dances and making them more free-spirited.
A live band is preparing to perform the musical numbers, with many of the musicians coming from the St. Cloud State Jazz Ensemble.
Now is the perfect time to do “Hair” because of the awakening of activism among young people today, Bleam said.
“Within the past year or two, I’ve seen college students suddenly mobilize around presidential candidates who seek to challenge the system. I’ve seen them rally around marriage equality. I’ve seen them awaken to stand against the racial violence and inequalities still plaguing our nation,” he said.
Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for non-St. Cloud State students and free with a St. Cloud State ID. Tickets are available at SCSUtickets.com.
SHEILA: Molly McAlister ’13
BERGER: Tyler Borresch ’13
WOOF: Samm Nordstrom
HUD: Courtney Colbert
JEANNIE: Jessica Peters
CRISSY: Jackie Keller ’10
DIONNE: Jasmine Nash