The American musical Hair captures a moment in the late 1960s when young people struggled to reject war, racism and a seemingly indifferent establishment.
Schmooze Productions artistic director Dean Chadwick said those are issues that are still being felt today.
“I really wish it did feel dated, but honestly everything that is talked about in this show I think is prevalent in our society in one way or another. We’ve certainly got drug addiction problems like we’ve never seen before, the political climate, the racism, yeah, it’s all there and, unfortunately, very real and in the moment,” he said.
Chadwick said he “fell in love” with the musical after seeing it on London’s West End seven years ago. This fall he chose to stage Hair himself, attracted by its ensemble nature and relevant social commentary.
“It really seemed like the right political show to just remind people that this isn’t new and we haven’t changed as far or as much as we’d like to,” he said.
He said the cast, and the show, came together quickly. The show comes to the Harbour City Theatre stage starting Nov. 2.
“We built this as a tribe, so it’s been a really organic kind of a fostering of this show. I didn’t want to come in as a director and go, ‘OK, now you’re doing this and now you’re doing that.’ It doesn’t work that way,” Chadwick said.
“It’s been a little bit slower process but [we’re] really growing scenes and creating as we go and it’s a pretty amazing piece. A lot of different characters doing different things and being in the moment all the time because they really don’t leave the stage for any significant amount of time. They’re always on stage.”
Staying true to the original production, Schmooze’s Hair will feature nudity and attendance is therefore restricted to those over 18. In another nod to the era, audience members in the balcony are asked to bring their own pillows on which to sit.
Chadwick said audiences will pick up on the continuing message of Hair, even though the musical was first performed 50 years ago.
“I think people are really going to dig it when they get here. They’re going to be enveloped by the vibe of the ’60s and the music and the people and the love and the environment and the political ramifications that happened then and notice how much they relate to what’s happening in our political climate today and in our world today,” he said.
“I think people are really going to have a great time and relive some moments that probably some of them don’t even remember, so they might get a new perspective on their past lives. And if they’ve never experienced the ’60s, this is the show to do it and really feel what it was like.”
WHAT’S ON…Schmooze Productions production of Hair at the Harbour City Theatre Nov 2 to 4, 9 to 11, 16 to 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 5 and 12 at 2 p.m. Admission is $29.40 for reserved floor seats and $12.60 for bring-your-own-pillow balcony seating. Show is restricted to those over 18.