Story by Reeanna Lynn Hernandez
The characters in MSU Denver’s production of “Hair” refuse conformity, dismiss monogamy and encourage others to “make love, not war.”
The world famous musical was re-envisioned by the MSU Denver’s theater department under director Marilyn Hetzel.
Opening night on Sept. 27 was an undeniable success.
The stage was set for the time period with a peace sign painted on the floor. Actors had long flowing hair and were costumed in clothing that was only suitable for the free-spirited individuals responsible for the hippie movement of the 1960s.
A serious underlying message was made through elements of humor, satire, drama and even a nude scene. Many talented actors and actresses performed in the play. The dedication of these student actors to the quality of the performance was more than evident.
Though the underlying theme of the musical was somewhat self explanatory, it was student actors themselves who shed light on the purpose of bringing this play to campus.
“‘Hair’ is about life. It is really about how everything is different but nothing has changed,” said Madison Ritter, a musical theatre major and actress in the musical. “We still deal with inequality, war, racism and with finding yourself. ‘Hair’ is about hippies finding themselves. It’s about being free, having no guilt. It’s about social issues and how they are still relevant today.
It’s about loving each other and accepting each other. It’s about being who you are and whoever you want to be.”
A controversial theme in this musical is racism.
“I really connected with my character,” said theatre major and actor James Miller. “I’m black. I’ve dealt with prejudice before. My character dealt with this. People living today still deal with this. It is still an issue.”
Some actors connected with the message in the musical on an emotional level.
“One of my favorite quotes from the play is from a song called ‘Flesh Failures,’” said Joey Costanza, musical education major and actor. “ When I sing these words I get overwhelmed with emotion. We are facing a dying nation. We are letting those who are privileged, those who have the money, control us every day.”
Audience members expressed their praise for MSU Denver’s production.
“In a word, beautiful,” said Derik DaSilva, a MSU Denver theatre major. “I was even crying in the end. Very powerful message”
One student changed his mind about “Hair” after watching the university’s production.
“I’ve never really liked the musical ‘Hair’ before,” said Trevor Wilkins, a MSU Denver business major. “But the performance tonight was absolutely spectacular. Some of the best talent in the state were here tonight.”
Others were inspired by the performance.
“I want to go to college and be a music major,” said high school senior, Nicola Lich. “I have a professor at my high school that recommended I see this play. Metro’s music and theater program is really an example of how people develop from high school to college. It is much more mature.”
For the actors involved in this musical, it was about more than just showing off their talent and adding experience to their professional resume. It was about a message that is relevant and meaningful to a college campus.
“‘Hair’ is about students,” actress Madison Ritter said. “The hippie movement was between ages 16 and 25. We are who this show is for. It is about stepping up and being a part of your world. The message in ‘Hair’ is so very relevant to our lives.”