‘Hair’ opens at the Barn Players

U-News Staff

“Hair: The American Tribe Love-Rock Musical” opened this past weekend at the Barn Players in Mission, Kan. Phil Kinen directs the Barn Players production with musical direction by Chris Holbrook.

“Hair” originally premiered Off-Broadway in 1967. It was met with major controversy with its open displays of sexuality, anti-Vietnam sentiments, racial integration, nudity and crude language. Later, the musical would go on to open on Broadway in 1968, running for over 1,700 performances, and won a Grammy for Best Score From an Original Cast Album in 1969.

With US involvement in Vietnam and the military draft looming over the nation’s young men, a group of hippies in New York set themselves against mainstream culture and social norms by embracing love and freedom through sexual promiscuity and drug use.

Claude, a member of this group, must decide if he will join his friends Berger, Emmaretta, Sheila, Woof and others in resisting the draft by running off to Canada, or forgo his pacifism to join the fight in Vietnam.

Steven James plays Claude in this production. James provides a dynamic portrayal that reflects the difficulty of Claude’s pivotal decision and the consequences he faces afterward.

Julia Jones plays Sheila, and is a powerhouse vocalist and performer as she sings, “How can people be so heartless?” in “Easy to Be Hard.” Additionally, James Wearing and Jake Leet, who play Woof and Berger, respectively, are unforgettable, The nuances in their interactions with cast mates and audience members add additional layers of humor to the show.

Other members of the cast include Blane Brungardt, Kristen Altoro, Renée Blinn, Mikyle Abernathy, Zach Lofland, Jakob Wozniak, Jessica Alcorn, Keegan Cole, Jill Smith, Elgin Thrower, Jr., Miles Wirth, Prisca Kendagor, Mark McNeal, Kat Ruprecht, Samantha Aaron and Skye Reid. They create and sustain a group of immense energy through the entire performance. As Woof says, “We are all one.”

This production of the popular musical blurs lines between audience and performer. Performers interact with audience members, drawing them into the Vietnam-era storyline. Audience members are encouraged to dance and sing along with the performers.

The Barn Players create a powerful performance, bringing a message of love and peace that resonates today. The performance embraces freedom, openness and emotional expression that may cause audience members to leave the show a little freer themselves.

The show runs through Oct. 5th. Tickets are available for purchase at www.thebarnplayers.org.