How quickly time passes! “Hair,” the iconic rock musical of the hippie era, celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2008 with a very successful revival on Broadway. And beginning May 7, Metro Detroiters can let the sunshine in once again as the Village Players of Birmingham closes its 2009-10 season with a colorful production of “Hair.”
The original show was noted for profanity, depiction of the use of illegal drugs, and, of course, its famous – then shocking – nude scene. The nude scene will not be in Village Players’ production, but all the rest of the play is very much intact, including the vitality intrinsic in the music and its exploration of the counter-culture.
Co-director Steve Roberts says that he and fellow director, Carl Jones, think of the play as a refresher course on what the social scene was like in the late 1960s and how relevant it is today. Jones heard the score of “Hair” on satellite radio’s Broadway channel while on a long family car trip. He became excited about the concept – as well as the music – and contacted Roberts about co-directing. They presented their idea to the board of Village Players – and the rest is history in the making.
Jones, a Rochester Hills resident, and Roberts, who lives in Royal Oak, are true collaborators when it comes to directing. “We work on each scene together,” says Roberts. “Each of us studies a scene separately, we talk about it together, and then we direct it.”
Directing the abundance of music in “Hair” is John Dickinson, an old hand at musical directing. The Pleasant Ridge resident remarked that the “music is everywhere.” He further noted that the composer, Galt MacDermot, was called in to write the music long after the concept of the show had been sold to producers. Although MacDermot continued to write music, “Hair” is his one big success.
“Hair” tells the story of a “tribe” of hippies living the bohemian life in New York City during the Viet Nam War. In the Players’ production, the tribe is composed of a diverse cast. Some have a long list of performances in community theater.
Others have less experience, such as two high-schoolers, Garett Harris of Royal Oak and Leora Ben-Ze’ev of Berkley. Ben-Ze’ev, the youngest member of the cast, appeared earlier this season in Village Players Youth Theatre production of “Rent,” which is a more recent play about the bohemian life in New York. Roberts also directed that show. It is jokingly said that he has become the Village Players’ expert on the counter-culture life style.
But whether experienced or not, the “tribe” have two things in common: talent and an enthusiasm for a musical play that is among the most famous of modern times.
“Hair” runs 8 p.m. May 7, 8, 14, 15, 22, 23 and 2 p.m. May 16 and 24 at Village Players Playhouse, 34660 Woodward, Birmingham (two blocks of south of Maple). Tickets are $17.
For tickets or more information, call 248-644-2075 or log on to http://www.birminghamvillageplayers.com.