Musical “Hair” has a political message that still speaks to today

Members of the Tribe, including Berger (played by Kyle Southern, left) and Sheila (played by Mary Gipe). Photo from the Reporter.

Western Carolina University’s Stage and Screen is presenting their final mainstage show for the 2016-2017 season, “Hair”, a controversial 1960s show that shocked and was much-loved by audiences.

The show premieres Wednesday, April 5, and will end Sunday, April 9.

Performances at WCU’s John Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center will begin at 7:30 p.m. April 5 through Friday, April 7. The show on Saturday, April 8, will begin at 8 p.m., and the final performance is set for 3 p.m. April 9.

As written by the Reporter, ““Hair” tells the story of the Tribe, a group of long-haired and politically active hippies in the Age of Aquarius who are living a bohemian lifestyle in New York City. A member of that group, Claude, faces the tough decision of whether to resist the draft as his friends have done or to give in to social and familial pressures to serve in Vietnam. Claude, his good friend Berger, their roommate Sheila and all their friends struggle to balance their young lives, loves and the sexual revolution with their opposition to the war and a society with which they stand at odds.”

Matt Howie, ensemble member of the Tribe, wrote and briefly spoke in person about the show. He said the show so far is coming along nicely and hopes to be ready for show time.

“As Claire Eye tells us,” Howie wrote via Facebook Messenger, “pressure makes diamonds.”

Although, there will be a little bit of censorship, with only partial nudity with actors stripping down to the nude colored pasties and dance belts. According to Howie, this is being done to avoid potential controversy for the UNC school system. That doesn’t change its overall political message, strong language and generational complaints. Howie says the show will call out (in a more modern sense) baby boomers and more.

Book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, Music by Galt McDermot, Directed by Terrence Mann, Musical Direction by Katya Stanislavskaya, Choreography by Ashley Wasmund. Found on Western Carolina University’s official website.

“I love the music and the atmosphere of the show. It’s got a very powerful message that applies to the politics today more frighteningly most would like to admit,” Howie wrote via Messenger, “There are problems that arose in the 60’s that still persist today, and that’s no good.”

Howie assures that the content within could still be deemed offensive. There are a few songs dedicated specifically to the topical issue of race and inequality, one of the lead characters, “Hud,” has a few solos wherein he expresses his qualms with how African Americans are treated by the government, society and history.

Tickets are $16 for WCU faculty and staff, and seniors; $22 for adults; and $10 for students on the day of the show and $7 in advance.