STORY BY MELISSA PERALTA
“Hair” had its electric opening night at Cypress College on Friday, Mar. 11, directed by Arthur Ross.
The musical is set and premiered in the late 1960s at the peak of public outcry against the Vietnam war, counterculture, and the sexual revolution of the time. The tribe of New York hippies featured in the production provide an alternative lifestyle of love and freedom to the “meat grinder” of the war draft and intolerance, featuring promiscuity, drug-use, and protest.
Cypress College’s “Hair” stars Diego Huerta-Guttierez as Claude, leader of the Tribe who struggles with his indecision of taking up the draft or burning his notice alongside others in the Tribe, which was and is a felony. The Tribe pursues a life of peace and happiness while navigating their dissatisfaction with the war and society’s conservatism.
“To be around such a wonderful cast makes the whole experience super fun since the tribe has connected in such a deeper level that playing my characters make it so much easier to immerse myself in the musical,” Carla Ongpauco, who plays Marjorie, said.
The messages portrayed in “Hair,” despite having been written almost 60 years ago, still resonate with the present day sociopolitical climate.
“What’s powerful about this show is how it highlights and stands up for those who have been silenced, those who have been marginalized, and those who have been considered less than for far too long,” Ross said. “This was written in , this has truth and bearing right now. This resonates today, and it’s crazy that it still does, but it does.”
As stated in the playbill of the production, “there are no specific scenes. The setting indicates the fluid-abstract world of the 1960’s as seen by, for, and about the “Flower Children” of the period.” Because of this, no two productions of “Hair” are the same, which makes each production distinctly unique, and Cypress College’s rendition is no different.
Cypress Alumnus Benjamin Pearl has seen different renditions of “Hair” in the past 30 years, and notes that the comfort level of the cast in performing the piece has dramatically improved.
“”Hair” was always designed to make people uncomfortable, and it’s become a thing with musical theater casts that it’s become a fun show to do because it gives you that space to explore sensuality and sexuality and topics that are usually a little more taboo,” Pearl said. “It’s interesting to see how the different casts treat it and how each director has handled it.”
At the time of its creation, the subjects of bisexuality, interracial relationships, and the like were extremely taboo in conversation, and “Hair” was one of the most influential of pieces to discuss these topics with an audience of people who had previously been ignorant to its relevance. Senior Tutor of the V&A Museum in the U.K. said in an article with BBC, “Hair was like a festival on the stage – an anarchic explosion of all things anti-establishment.”
Cypress College performances will resume later this week with two showings: Mar. 18 and Mar. 19 at 7 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.cypresscollegetheatre.com. In accordance with CDC guidelines, face masks and proof of COVID-19 vaccination are required to be permitted into the theater.
To our readers the American Tribal love-rock Musical Hair contains adult language/humor as well as sexuality and brief full nudity.