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Do you remember the ’60s? Get ready for Hair

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There is a saying if you can remember the ’60s, you weren’t really there. If so , the University of Lethbridge’s presentation of the  1967 rock musical ‘Hair’ which runs at the University Theatre, Feb. 9-13, will help you remember. So get ready for a bit of sex drugs, rock and roll, and yes, a little bit of nudity.Ian McFarlane (Berger) rehearses for Hair, Photo by Richard Amery
  Choreographer Lisa Doolittle proposed this project.
“I thought it would be interesting to gather a diversity of people. And Hair is the perfect production for that,” Doolittle said. Hair is a 1967 rock musical about  a group of young people in New York City’s East Village who come together and form “the Tribe” a group of flower children inspired by  the hippies of the Haight Ashbury District in San Francisco, who seek a new path, turn in drop out, take drugs, embrace their bodies and protest Vietnam and the establishment.

One of the main characters, Claude, who is having difficulty  completely embracing the new counter-culture refuses to burn his draft card, and ends up dying in Vietnam which has an effect on the rest of the Tribe.
“People who were young in the ’60s are the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates’ of today. It’s a very powerful production. It makes you wonder what is the point of war. But there’s lots of sex, drugs rock and roll too,” she said.

The massive cast and crew includes  community members and students from all areas of the university.
“The young people here are the same age as the young people in Hair. This is not a pastiche of the 60s.We asked these young people talk to  people who were young in the ’60s. These kids have really, really become these characters,” she said adding choreographing the dance moves was more of a matter of teaching the actors to feel and experience the music and let their bodies move to it.

“So much of the ’60s  was a celebration of the body and rejecting consumerism and rejecting the machine of war,” she said.

“It’s not  so much about  choreographing it , ... I’m not telling them 1,2,3,4, they’ve got to do it, feel it, experience it. I’ve just been organizing it so the audience can actually see what’s going on,” she continued praising director Gail Hanrahan for shaping the cast into a unique vision of the production.
Actor Ian McFarlane, who plays Tribe leader Berger is enjoying his role.

“He’s a bit of an anarchist. He’s very much against the institution, but he’s also a lover. He’s definitely a complex character,” McFarlane said.
Ife Abiola, who is often seen fronting a couple local bands, stretches his acting chops in hair as  Hud.
“He (Hud) is a tribe member who is  usually used to  bring up  social issues. He’s very up front and shocking. I think we’d get along pretty well,” Abiola said of his character.


“He’s very difficult and crass but people like him in spite of it or maybe because of it,” he said adding he is enjoying working with the cast.
“Not only professionally but personally. They work togetherAndrea Montgomery rehearses for Hair. Photo by Richard Amery well. These people are friends,” Abiola said, adding this is his first performance of Hair though he was familiar with the production. He is looking forward to opening night, Feb.9.
“It will be interesting not having a safety net. It will bring out the best in all of us,” he continued.

Fifth year management certificate student Lisa Niinimaa, who also holds a music degree, is doing double duty as a a tribe member and vocal choreographer.
“There’s 49 numbers involving almost all of the cast and they’re also dancing ” she said adding it has been a challenge coordinating so many different voices.

“The biggest challenge is there is a lot of there are a lot of voices, but we have a lot of great actors and actresses,” she continued adding the group is fortunate to have such amazing harmonies.

“ I love the music and I love working with the people.”
Tribe member Kyle Schulte has also enjoyed working with the cast.
 “That’s been the best thing, to really bond with everybody. It’s been quite a journey,”  said the second year drama performance student who hadn’t seen the production before getting involved with it.
“Hair will be amazing. People are really going to enjoy it if they’re interested in the ’60s.” The show is 8 p.m. each night except Friday, Feb. 12, when there are shows at 7 p.m. as well as midnight.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat editor
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