The 50-year-old musical Hair reflects the essence and revolution of the 1960s.
Even though the songs and story are legendary, Arizona Broadway Theatre director/choreographer Kurtis Overby took his time scheduling the show, which presents hot-button issues like free love, community, war, peace and resistance.
“With Hair, we wanted to wait a while to really think about how we wanted to approach the piece,” said Overby, who has been with the theater for a decade.
Ultimately, Overby decided to honor Hair on its 50th anniversary, sticking with the 1968 story. It is on stage February 23 to March 25.
“I’ve seen different versions of Hair performed,” Overby said. “What scared me was they were commentaries on current political and societal things that were going on and I was uncomfortable with that.”
Overby wanted to pay homage to the folks who allow U.S. residents to be free.
“We don’t have that fear to go out and do things,” he said. “It’s important to look at 1968 and look at those people who lived through this era and honor them in a way that the other ways to do Hair do not. I want to keep it very straightforward and let the audience take whatever they want from it.”
Hair presents its challenges, however, he adds. Overby admits the script was difficult to understand.
“After reading it 10 times, it was important for me to find a character from whose point of view to tell the story,” he said. “Once we get the audience to understand that it’s that character’s point of view, then everything will take shape and people will understand what is going on.”
The casting for Hair can be tricky as the production features brief full nudity, provocative, strong language and lyrics and adult situations.
“I think we hit the nail on the head with casting,” Overby explains. “I don’t know all of the cast, but I do know quiet of few of them, and a returning Arizona Broadway Theatre actor, Ryan Crimmins, is playing the character of Claude. I trust him 100 percent and I’ve worked with him many times. I think we have a very talented cast to tell this story.”