by Christa Tandana

It’s 1967 - a year of racism, poverty, drugs, sex and riots. The United States is in the middle of the Vietnam War. The youth of America are burning their draft cards and…growing out their hair. 

Hair follows a group of hippies living in New York in 1967. We focus on Claude, a young person searching for the greater meaning in life. He and his peers live a lifestyle that is a rebellion against injustices that they see in society. One of their acts of rebellion includes growing out their hair; Claude explains that long hair symbolizes freedom and liberation from society’s expectations.

The actors break the fourth wall by incorporating the audience into the play and acknowledging their presence. The cast often mingles with the crowd during musical numbers, even in the balcony. The band gets kickin’ and the hippies start dancin’ with classic songs like “Hair”, and “Let the Sun Shine In”. You can’t help but want to dance. They even invite the audience to dance with them onstage at the end!

Despite the amount of fun in the show, there are definitely serious moments and political commentary woven into the show. In the song, “Electric Blues”, they sing, “They chain ya and brainwash ya when you least suspect it. They feed ya mass media. The age is electric.” This refers to the use of media to brainwash the public.

From long hair to drug trips to burning draft cards, Hair shows the counterculture in a way that makes the show about more than just hippies. Hair has come to symbolize standing up for justice. The cast has even appeared at various rallies for things like marriage equality. 

Hair first opened on Broadway in 1967, yet its message resounds with fresh meaning and shows similarities to our own era. This production allows for a newer generation that didn’t live through the “hippie era” to experience it first-hand. 

HOW TO SEE THE SHOW: $25 lottery rush 2 hours before show; $25 student rush • Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 W. 45th St.

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