The Department of Musical Theatre’s production of Hair was two and a half hours of some of the highest-caliber performance I have ever seen. The revolutionary “tribal love-rock musical” Hair is a powerhouse of a musical, anti-war and counterculture sentiment in its bones, filled with unapologetic depictions of drug use, sexuality, and even nudity.
As an audience member, I was enthralled from the first moment all the way until the end. Every moment of the performance was perfectly crafted, the movement on the stage always dynamic and exciting. Each vocal performance was special in its own right, and I found myself with chills from the power of the cast’s collective voices multiple times, especially in the compelling final reprise, “Let the Sunshine In.” It’s hard to pick a favorite moment, but one fun visual that stood out to me was the song “Air,” performed flawlessly by Maggie Kuntz as Jeanie, while members of the Hair Tribe surrounded her with a cloud of bubbles from bubble guns. The majority of the second act, which centers on the visions of Claude’s hallucinogenic trip, was a stunning showcase of choreography, costuming, and striking lighting design.
Hair, in my opinion, is an important musical. The director’s note at the beginning of the program asks audience members to consider, in response to questions about the “shocking” nature of the show, why the language and brief nudity on stage draws more attention and challenge than the thought of sending young people to war. Hair asks us to reconsider what we are told is “normal.” The Department of Musical Theatre worked in collaboration with a cultural sensitivity specialist, an intimacy director, and other experts to create this show, building an understanding of the musical and the topics it tackles, connecting it to today’s context and conversations.
My only wish is that I could have seen this more than once. This was an incredible last musical to see at the University of Michigan as a student supporting my peers. I could not be filled with more love for live theatre and the incredible talent and energy in the student productions here at this university.
Read more about SMTD’s production process for Hair in this Michigan Muse article.