‘Flow it, show it;’ Hair unfurls on CenterStage with ’60s passion

(Editor’s note: Due to a production error, an incorrect byline appeared on the print version of this story.)  

Peace, love and protest will take over CenterStage with the 1960s classic musical, Hair.
Audiences will be sure to recognize the classic songs from the show, such as “Aquarius,” “Good Morning, Starshine,” “Let the Sunshine In” and, of course, the title song, “Hair.”
The show, created by two hippies, James Rado and Gerome Ragni, along with composer Galt MacDermot, and was produced for Broadway by Michael Butler, tells the tale of a tribe of flower children who protest the Vietnam War, racism, brutality, stereotypes and injustice – all things people do (or should) protest today.
“There’s a true heart to this,” said CenterStage Artistic Director Frank Goodloe III.
Keenly aware that some people in his audiences may have been hippies, or at least hit the streets to protest the war or some other injustice. Goodloe wants this production of Hair to strike a chord with them.
“As they got older [maybe they] forgot about that part and haven’t continued to protest and fight for things,” he said. “We definitely wanted to make sure that we drove that home in this show.”
The set and costumes are a lot easier to pull off for Hair than more elaborate CenterStage productions. Many of the costumes were clothing already in the CenterStage locker or the cast members’ closets. And while the set will be nice, the show could just as well be performed on a bare stage.
“Why not,” Goodloe said. “The play is really about the interaction of the characters.”
The most basic costume of the show comes during a scene in which the characters get naked. But don’t worry, Goodloe said, in this production, actors will only strip down to their underwear.
“We have talked to the cast, and there’s not actually going be nudity; they’ll get down to bras and panties,” he said. “And even then, we’ve done it in a very tasteful way where nothing is seen. It’s more for the fact that in the ’60s, people did get naked to protest something, so this is a pretty vital part about how much this tribe or family is standing up for what they believe in.”
Goodloe and Assistant Director Scott Goodman spoke to the cast and allowed them to decide what they wanted to do about that scene. “No one’s been pressured, and even if they don’t feel like getting down into their bras and panties or just underwear, they don’t have to,” Goodloe said. “I told everyone to be comfortable with what they felt comfortable with.”
The cast is a mixture of new and seasoned CenterStage actors, he said. Josh O’Brien, who plays Burger, and Lauren McCombs, who plays Sheila, are returning to CenterStage after a hiatus. CenterStage regular Tymika Prince, who was in Dreamgirls, plays Dionne, and Derek Palmer, also of Dream Girls, plays Hud.
Claude is played by Jake Minton, and Daniel Smith plays Woof.
The music, of course, is timeless, and is sure to evoke feelings from the theater goers, Goodloe added.
“I hope that as people leave, they will feel inspired to to fight for justice and to fight for a world of peace and love and harmony, which is what I think we all want,” he said. “But I think a lot of us aren’t standing up and do anything about it, myself included.”
In times of uncertainty, Hair is not just a fun play to see, it’s an absolute necessity.
“I’m like, ‘We need to have this,’ and ‘This needs to happen,’ but I don’t do a whole lot,” Goodloe said. “The show has inspired me to make sure I go out and do more.”
Want to go?
Hair will play from Feb. 6 to 22. Tickets are available at JewishLouisville.org or by calling 502-459-0660. Guests who bring five cans of food for a food drive will be entered into a drawing for two tickets to the Mother-Daughter Brunch before the Mother’s Day matinee of Mamma Mia. There will be a panelist discussion with activists Jessica Loving and Doug Magee after the performance on February 9.

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