The show, which is G-Rated after some serious content editing, is being mounted by director Karen Cooke of Topanga Youth Services, and stars an ensemble of Topanga middle schoolers who will sing and dance their way through a selection of the spectacular songs from the original 1968 Broadway hit by Gerome Ragni, James Rado, and Galt MacDermot, including “Let the Sunshine In,” “Good Morning Starshine,” “I Got Life,” and of course “Hair” and “Aquarius.”
Originally billed by promoters as “America’s First Tribal Love-Rock Musical,” the show’s revival in the actual age of Aquarius—and in Topanga, this most appropriate of tribal communities—represents a passing of the torch to a new generation.
The kids involved in Topanga’s revival are too young to have experienced that major turning point in fashion history when crew cuts and beehives were cast off in favor of “long, beautiful…down to there hair,” a vivid, homespun shift in style that served as metaphor for the deeper and more powerful tidal shifts that were occurring in our world at that time.
Even so, today’s kids can certainly relate to the troubling riptides that gave birth to the original show, and to the great changes of the ’50s and ’60s, that post-atomic era when the Peace Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Movement, the Environmental Movement, and the Space Age were all born.
Just as the musical’s creators intended, the messages communicated in the original libretto remain ageless in their Aquarian offering of hope and knowledge for a more enlightened, peaceful and tolerant future.
Says Cooke, “The reason I chose to do ‘Hair’ now with kids at this juncture is because I think it’s timely with the fact we are in another confusing war with confusing leadership and a natural resistance to this mess. [This version of] ‘Hair’ is about a group of youths and their feelings about being drafted for something they don’t believe in.
“Aside from the current events,” continues Cooke, “there are some great songs and an opportunity to have a lot of fun with the different range of characters the group of actors will play.
“Most of the actors in this cast are a company, and will change roles throughout the production, something that offers more opportunity to act and learn,” says Cooke.
“We will also have the opportunity to perform it at two locations which will exercise their ability to learn about space and adjustments to it.”
In addition to Cooke and her galaxy of young stars, the show also features Brian Carter as music director, choreography by Paula Perlman, and art direction by Linda Rodde.
Donations will be accepted at the door at both shows—$10 adults, $7 students—nd tickets can also be ordered in advance by calling (310) 502-3358.
Five percent of the proceeds will be donated to CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), an organization that helps foster children find permanent homes. The remainder will support Topanga Youth Services, a non-profit after school program for Topanga middle school-aged children.