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'Hair' Brings Love Not War to Sutter Theatre

The high-spirited musical brought with it great music and a peaceful message

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Ryan Vásquez, Christian Vilina and the cast of 'Hair.' Photo by Bob Toy.

Hair the musical was here spreading peace and love. “Come to the Be-in!” the cast yelled out to the audience as they handed out flyers during the last part of Act 1.

Hair takes place in the late 1960s during a time where unshaven, free spirited people known as hippies were protesting against the war in Vietnam. It was truly the “age of Aquarius” with signs that said “Make Love, Not War.” This high-spirited musical played for two weeks beginning on April 23 and ran through May 2 at the 620 Sutter Street Theatre.

“This musical in particular has such great music and such a great message. Yes, I wanted to be a part of it in some way,” said Katie Meehan, who played character Sheila Franklin.

Sheila was a student attending New York University and was an activist, protesting against the war. “I love her spirit and her freedom. She wants the world to be happy and peaceful and I think Sheila and I share that,” Meehan said of her character.

The actors’ character development is important to the viewers, because it allows a sense of realism in the show. Although Meehan felt some similarities between her character and herself, she still had to rehearse and practice a lot to create the right appearance. “I would practice with the cast, do extra rehearsals with the director just to make sure we were doing things he liked. It’s a lot of outside time on your own,” she said

Brooks Tyfaria, who played one of the tribe members in Hair, shared a challenge from the play. “Learning how to act, actually,” Tyfaria said. “I’ve never done it and it’s just doing and learning how to be present … keeping that energy going and keeping it 100 percent.

“I try to stay on breath, to keep going and keep letting my emotions relax and rest and learn how to keep relaxing through all the techniques they taught us at this school.”

 

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Nora Doane and the cast of 'Hair.' Photo by Bob Toy.

Organizing and coordinating this theatrical performance was the job and important role of Hair’s stage manager Shona Rajamohan. She is the organizer and communicator between the director and the backstage cast while in rehearsal. When faced with such a responsibility, you deal with challenges. Rajamohan shared that she was “juggling work, school and rehearsals.”

“I wanted to give my full dedication, because Clark [Lewis] deserves the best, and I want to put my full energy into it,” Rajamohan said. “Just trying to find the time, with the one rehearsal a week and with the seven hours, it’s still a hard time to plan everything out.”

Hair has a very important message to give to the audience. “To let loose, to be yourself and live every day and really don’t give a sh** about what anybody else has to say, because at the end of the day, you’re just going to be you,” said Christian Vilina, who played George Berger. “This musical really explains to people that you need to live everyday to the fullest.”

Hair can teach us about how to love and nurture each other. In the musical, the hippies wouldn’t give into the draft card and protested until they won. Hair teaches us to never give up and to keep fighting for what we believe in. The characters show how their parents, the government and other citizens were against them and wanted them to be “normal,” but they didn’t give in and kept their ground. The characters showed us that we have each other and that’s all we need.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a play influence me this much,” Vilina said. “The world is moving really quickly and it’s kind of transitioning; we don’t know where it’s going, but its something similar to this, where it was a time of change and having your voice be heard and in this day and age, everyone wants their voice to be heard.”

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The cast of 'Hair.' Photo by Bob Toy.