Ole Miss Theatre stages ‘Hair’ this weekend

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Age of Aquarius arrives at the University of Mississippi this weekend with the dawning of Ole Miss Theatre’s production of “Hair.”

The Vietnam-era musical classic, subtitled “The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical,” will be performed Friday through Sunday at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The popular and critically acclaimed musical features several popular songs, including “Let the Sunshine In,” “Aquarius” and “Good Morning Starshine.”

Tickets are $12.50 for adults, $9 for Ole Miss students and $8 for senior citizens. For ticket information, contact the UM Box Office at 662-915-7411 or visit www.theatre.olemiss.edu.

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Theatergoers should know that “Hair,” which was controversial when it was first staged in in New York in the 1960s, contains adult content and is for mature audiences only.

While the musical still retains its edge nearly half a century after it was first performed, it also promises to be an enjoyable night for the audience, said Rachel Staton, a musical theater major and an actor in the production.

“The show deals with a lot of controversial topics,” Staton said. “We talk about sex, race, drug and alcohol abuse, anti-government, anti-religion and a barrage of other topics that can be a lot to handle, but I think ‘Hair’ presents these topics in such a fun and accessible way that it’s hard to not enjoy yourself.

“I understand that we are in a region and on a campus that can be resistant to art that deals with subject matters like this, but that’s what the show was intended to do. Also, with the variety of characters, it’s hard to not relate to someone on stage.”

The play touches on topics that made headlines in the 1960s and continue to be in the news today, such as the civil rights movement and “women gaining access to birth control, so they could have sex like men could,” said Jennifer Mizenko, a UM professor of theatre arts and choreographer for “Hair.”

“We’re not editing any of the subject matter, any of the relationships – anything,” Mizenko said. “I see this as a period piece. This is real and this is what happened. The men who wrote (‘Hair’), this was their world. They wrote a musical about what was happening to them, so this was not a made-up situation.

“On top of all this frivolity, experimentation and hyper-awareness, there is a deeper message of why war? Why is war the answer? Is there another way? So the message is ‘open your heart.’”

In terms of the choreography, Mizenko said she and director Rhona Justice-Malloy wanted it to “look daring with an essence of floating and that these people are taking risks.”

“Hair” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Upcoming shows

Kicking off 2016 is the third production of the season, “Anton in Show Business,” set for Feb. 17-28. This madcap comedy follows three actresses across the footlights, down the rabbit hole and into a strangely familiar Wonderland that looks a lot like American theater. In the tradition of great backstage comedies, this show conveys the joys, pains and absurdities of putting on a play at the turn of the century.

The final production of the season is Shakespeare’s most popular comedy, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The production, slated for April 15-24, will coincide with the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death and Shakespeare’s first folio coming to the university.

In addition, Ole Miss Theatre is continuing its Patron Appreciation Night, which will be the first Friday of each production. Only patrons, season ticket holders and Friends of Ole Miss Theatre will be able to purchase tickets for these performances providing the perfect environment for those who enjoy the magic of the theater.