A group of young men and women take over a church while protesting their government's stand on foreign relations and the impact it is having on their lives. This situation could have been pulled from recent headlines covering the Occupy movement; it is instead the story of the Tribe from the American Tribal Love-Rock Musical: Hair.
In the late 1960s resisting government policy was resisting a war that many thought was unjust, and could represent life or death for many American citizens drafted into the conflict in Vietnam. The Randolph Academy and director Darcy Evans are taking on this politically charged musical. Time Magazine recently said "today Hair seems, if anything, more daring than ever." As a nation, a civilization, and a culture, we face many of the same dilemmas that the members of Hair's Tribe does. Issues of freedom, moral and ethical duty, identity, diversity, and freedom of expression.
"Hair represents a chance to tell a story about a moment in time, a moment in history where things were at a real turning point," says Evans when asked about the importance and relevance of the musical for today's audiences.
"I think that it is still very relevant, now more than ever. We are still dealing with issues of racism, we still have ongoing wars in many parts of the world, and youth culture often seems at odds with authority," Evans says.
Evans has brought his vision of this production to life through careful consideration of the Randolph Theatre venue, and the sensibilities of the multimedia aware audience.
The Randolph Theatre was constructed as a church in the late 1800s, but has served the community as a cultural centre, performance theatre, and music venue since 1985. Evans thought it was fitting to try and bring back some of the building's earlier incarnation.
"We have decided to restore the Randolph Theatre to its former life as a church," says Evans, "which our Tribe occupies, like anyone might have done during the Occupy Toronto movement. Our cast sits in protest until the end of the show in our restored church."
This transformation also brings the audience into the piece; as the story develops so does the façade. Evans and the creative team have also decided to sharpen the focus of the narrative to be on the protest of the Vietnam War and Claude's struggle in deciding to burn his draft card or go to war and fight for his country.
"We are using live video in the production itself," reports Evans. "Vietnam is universally known as the first televised war. So what we have done is to incorporate a camera crew from CBS into the action of the musical. Their role is to broadcast the events to a live audience in 1960s America," he explains. "So you have the option of watching the actor perform to the camera, or on the back wall which acts as the television screen."
It is not just the staging of the production that Evans predicts will move theatre goers, but the talented group of actors, singers, and dancers that he has had the pleasure to work with. "This production represents a chance to show how strong their skills are and how good their training has been," he says. "Hair is a really good choice for this specific group. There is no doubt in my mind that we are looking at the next wave of theatre stars."
Hair opens tonight, July 24th, 2012 at 8 pm and runs for two weeks at the Randolph Theatre (formally known as the Bathurst Street Theatre), 736 Bathurst Street, Toronto.
Tickets are available from Ticketmaster (1-855-985-2787) and the Randolph Academy box office (for groups of 15+ 416-924-2243 x 266).
For regular show times:
July 24th, 2012 8 PM
July 25th, 2012 8 PM
July 26th, 2012 8 PM
July 27th, 2012, 8 PM
July 28th, 2012 8 PM
July 31st, 2012 8 PM
August 1st, 2012 8 PM
August 2nd, 2012 8 PM
August 3rd, 2012 8 PM
August 4th, 2012 8 PM
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Founded in 1992 by George C. Randolph Jr., the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts is a not-for-profit educational institution providing world-class performing arts training to young artists worldwide. Distinguished faculty and entertainment industry professionals shape Triple Threat™ skills of dancing, acting, and singing in an accredited college program, youth show choir program, and children's recreational program. College alumni and faculty have contributed to projects such as Rent, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Mamma Mia, Fosse, The Little Mermaid, Hairspray, The Sound of Music, 42nd Street, Dirty Dancing, Chicago, West Side Story, We Will Rock You!, Jersey Boys, The Producers, Rock of Ages and most recently Jesus Christ Superstar.