‘Hair’ pushes boundaries of community theater

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By Sara Miller

The Evergreen Players have been honored in recent years for their authenticity in acting, directorial innovation and willingness to push the boundaries of contemporary community theater. In 1967 when “Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” debuted off-Broadway, the show was lauded for similar risk-taking and cultural significance. What better combination than a groundbreaking theater group presenting the musical that broke new ground in musical theater?

“Hair” was written in 1964 by two actors, James Rado and Gerome Ragni, as an autobiographical revue of the hippie counterculture and sexual revolution of the 1960s. Its willingness to address issues such as free love and draft dodging made the musical a timeless portrait of a cultural movement that changed the world. Several of the musical’s recognizable songs such as “Aquarius” and “Let the Sun Shine In” became anthems of the anti-Vietnam War peace movement.
“Hair” tells the story of the “tribe,” a group of politically active, long-haired hippies living a bohemian life in New York City and fighting against conscription into the Vietnam War. Claude (played by Patrick Thomas Wills), his good friend Berger (played by JR Cody Schuyler), their roommate Sheila (played by Jacquie Jo Billings) and their friends struggle to balance their young lives, loves and the sexual revolution with their rebellion against the war and their conservative parents and society. Ultimately, Claude must decide whether to resist the draft as his friends have done, or to succumb to the pressures of his parents to serve in Vietnam, compromising his pacifistic principles and risking his life.
The “tribe” of 18 actors who make up the cast is as diverse as the Bohemians who populated the real-time counterculture movement. Several cast members are veterans of Center/Stage and the Evergreen Players, while many are new to the Evergreen stage. The newcomers bring a vast wealth of talent garnered on stages throughout the Denver metro area.
The key to a show like “Hair” is the feelings it evokes in the audience. Throughout rehearsals, the cast has become a close-knit “tribe,” and it shows in their powerful adaptation of the show’s music.

“Wow. That was all I could say after watching a few of the songs performed yesterday,” says public relations coordinator Suzi Hoffer. “I had tears in my eyes and a goofy grin on my face.”
Whether you were a dyed-in-the-wool hippie yourself, or just enjoy the peace, love and rock ’n’ roll that defined the 1960s, “Hair” is sure to bring that same rush of emotions to you. The Players are offering up special opportunities for audience members to get involved in the sensations of the ‘60s. Peace beads and Evergreen Players exclusive “Hair” tie-dye shirts will be available for purchase at the show. To fill out the sensations even further, “Hair” has adopted a signature drink, the tequila sunrise. Audience members can purchase a signature cocktail in a “Hair” take-home hurricane glass. Other snacks and liquid refreshments will also be on sale before the show and during intermission.
For more information, visit www.evergreenplayers.org.

Sara Miller, a freelance writer and a resident of Evergreen, lives with her husband, two children and a dog.

‘Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical’
Presented by the Evergreen Players
Directed by Brenda Billings. Music directed by Mitch Samu.
Through Aug. 5; Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. at Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive
Tickets: $20 adults; $16 seniors (60-plus)/students; $10 for children under 12. To reserve tickets, call 303-674-4934 or visit