Publisher: Elizabeth Hurd / Editor: Jillian Ball

“Hair” Coming Soon to UCO from CityRep and the University of Central Oklahoma

“Hair” tribal members–that’s Hagen Wano on the bottom in the yellow geometric shirt with the faux fir vest collar! Photo courtesy of CityRep

“Hair” is opening February 6 at 7:30 and stars Guthrie resident, Hagen Wano in the role of Berger, alongside many extremely talented performers.  “Hair: The American Tribal Love Rock Musical” is a joint production between the University of Central Oklahoma and Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre.  This cooperative venture is an opportunity for students to work alongside seasoned Equity Actors in a Musical Theatre Extravaganza that is a vital and relevant part of American culture.  Fifty years ago, when “Hair” opened, it was a shock to society, and was actually banned in several places.  Today, things have changed, we are more accepting as we have lived through it, and seen a host of other Rock Musicals inspired by the groundbreaking “Hair” with flair.

Hagen Wano is a young man of extreme competence and common sense as well as superb talent.  Pollard fans are familiar with his several appearances on stage here in Guthrie, he can sing and dance with assurance and talent.  His voice is smooth and so is his acting.  This production is directed and choreographed by Steven Smeltzer, a seasoned former cast member of “Hair” who is also mentoring many of his students at UCO as well as teaching them.  His in-depth knowledge from working with Gerome Ragni and James Rado, the original writers, gives him an edge, and that edge has been passed along to Hagen Wano and his tribal companions.

We recall that “Hair” is a story of young people who are part of the cultural revolution beginning in the mid-1960-s and on-going today.  The issues have changed but the upheaval has not settled down.  The rude language, free love, rampant drugs and radical ideas are not as shocking as fifty years ago, but “Hair” is still disturbing.  The disturbing aspect is that the innocence these young people had was ripped away by violence suddenly and not gradually through experience as it should be.  Rebellion and defiance was embraced as they set out to change the world.  The shock is needed-we, the people, need to be shook up now and again. 

“Hair” is still inspiring, with great music by Galt MacDermott voiced by angels who may have fallen, but can still soar.  Ragni and Rado’s book and music is still relevant today, and that is disturbing, but a revolution takes a little time.  So does a renaissance. 

Audiences may recognize other performers besides Wano, such as Megan Montgomery, tribal member who has been a frequent performer at the Pollard.  JaLeesa Beavers, another tribal member, has returned to Oklahoma from New York where she is already reaching a new and very sophisticated audience.  She may be joined by Wano, and other cast members such as fellow tribal member, Libby McCormack among others.  Berger is a young man ‘with a hard shell but, deep down he cares about his family’ according to Wano, who plays him with consummate skill.  Wano says that he uses his sexual energy to ‘hide his caring’ and that sounds quite familiar. Wano can do it all—sing with passion, act with integrity, and dance wildly, because that’s how it was done in the 60’s!  He is certainly multi-talented and includes juggling on his resume.                                                                                                                                  

Hagen Wano

The character of Berger is familiar, and Wano concentrates on the differences between his own balanced personality and Berger’s volatility.  He does so with assistance from fellow actors in the show such as Cameron Blakely as Claude, Hope Chancey as Sheila, Brad Baker as Margaret Mead and Easton Edwards as Woof.  Caleb Burnett is Hud, Erica Burkette is Dionne, Mandy Miller is Jeannie and Sophie Mings is Crissy.  These fine performers from UCO form the core of the tribe struggling to deal with issues like war and peace, social injustice, drugs and raging hormones.  They take their angst to the streets and still in the innocence of youth, become rebellious and defiant.  And they began to change the world.  Smeltzer’s direction is not only sensitive, it is sincere, and City-Reps Artistic Director, Don Jordan contributes as he swells with pride. 

The first question for Wano: ‘Who does your hair?’  The answer is Tori Hood, from Shear Sensations, a local Guthrie salon.  Good choice!  She makes writer’s look good too-but she’ll have her work cut out for her after this show!!!

Opening night is Wednesday February 6 with a 7:30 pm curtain and plays through Sunday, February 10 at 7:30.  Saturday and Sunday will also have a 2:00 pm matinee.  Tickets are easily available—405-848-3761 for City-Rep’s box office or 405-974-3375 for the box office at Mitchell Hall, UCO.    Or visit www.cityrep.com or www.uco.edu online.  Act now as tickets are going fast!

The above article was published in the Guthrie News Leader, today, January 26, 2019.  Below as bonus material is the original feature written for okartsceneandhurd.com

“Hair: The American Tribal Love Rock Musical” is controversial material.  The theme is still shocking after all these years.  50 years now.  And the most shocking thing?  How innocent we all were.  How innocent “Hair” was when it first came out and was banned…for the nudity, when it was intended to be controversial because of the blood that was being shed in a war no one wanted to be in.  The story of Hair follows a group of young people living in New York, struggling with the counter culture and renaissance that was to change the world.  Rock music, free love with the pill, the war, the flag, the alternate realities from illicit substances and defying the establishment.  The older generation looked on in horror as these young people seemed to trample dearly held values.  These upheavals are necessary when the disease of complacency reigns—questioning becomes defiance, defiance becomes rebellion.  Eventually the society becomes stronger.  In the meantime chaos flourishes.

“Hair” uses sensory bombardment for a reaction, and the approach still works.  Writer’s Gerome Ragni and James Rado wrote the musical with a little autobiography, a little biography, and a lot of music creating a new genre: Rock Musical Theatre. The story is still relevant.  The shock value is still working and “Hair” is being presented at Mitchell Hall located at the University of Central Oklahoma campus in Edmond.

And, although the dawning of the Age of Aquarius may be past, the future is just as frightening and the innocents are just as lost.  “Hair” is relevant beyond the imagining and hopes of Ragni and Rado.  The music is of Galt MacDermot is just as compelling and the young performers from UCO and around the city, student and professional, are just as talented. 

 “Hair” is a co-production between UCO and Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre (City-Rep) combining the talents of many students at UCO and the professional expertise from their professors with the talent and guidance from one of the region’s most prestigious Equity Theatres.  City-Rep’s Artistic Director, Don Jordan, can barely contain his excitement about going back to his own youth, as these youngsters relive our youth with grace, dignity and compassion.  Interviewing one of these young performers, Hagen Wano, it appears that he is just as innocent as we were, and he understands, as we did, that innocence should be lost gradually through experience; not imposed upon us by forces completely beyond our control.

Hagen Wano is a very talented Guthrie resident with an impressive collegiate resume primarily at UCO.  He has also appeared at The Pollard and is always an audience favorite for his natural abilities. He fell in love with the stage while performing in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” as a freshman at Guthrie High School and has never looked back for a second.  He has the talent, the drive and the intelligence.  He also has the support of family and hometown.  Being raised in Guthrie he has the strong moral compass from wise parents and hometown values giving him humility and resilience.  Making it in Guthrie means he can make it in New York and of course, anywhere.

He is not alone.  The entire cast of principals and tribe all exhibit the qualities a successful performer needs.  The talents of Cameron Blakely as Claude, Hope Chancey as Sheila, Easton Edwards as Woof and Brad Baker as Margaret Mead have the same drive and vitality that Hagen Wano has.  Caleb Burnett as Hud, Erica Burkette as Dionne, Mandy Miller as Jeanie and Sophie Mings as Crissy and Easton Edward are equally talented.  These primary tribal members are already wonderfully integrated with Berger.  Backstage, the personas are completely different but the camaraderie and connections are just as powerful. Pollard fans may recognize other performers such as Megan Montgomery whose tribal contributions are dynamic and exciting. JaLeesa Beavers has been a favorite among Oklahoma City audiences from her performances at City-Rep and other theatres.  It is good to see her back as a tribal member in “Hair” in Oklahoma from New York where she is on her way to success.  In fact, many of the twenty tribal members are doing double duty—performing marvelously in the tribe while they also understudy major roles.

This is possible due to the incredibly sensitive and intelligent direction of Steven Smeltzer who is not only director and but also choreographer of “Hair” a show he has performed in many times himself.  Working directly with Rado and Ragni on some occasions as well as in numerous roles gives him in depth knowledge of the show, and he has passed his wisdom on to his cast superbly.

Wano’s enthusiasm as he speaks of his dreams of New York and his tribal friends like Libby McCormack who dream of success.  Musical theatre is a competitive tough business; not everyone makes it, but these performers should all have that chance to educate and entertain us.

Things have changed a little bit.  Nudity on stage is optional and will not necessarily dismay modern audiences as it did.  And the realization that everyone on stage will only disrobe as they are comfortable doing so.  The language is disrespectful, the activities are dangerous and the kids are not as free to practice free love as they think, the shock is still in the innocence—and modern audiences need to be shook up just as much as ever. Besides, some nostalgia is cool.

The interesting question for Hagen Wano—‘who does your hair?!’ is answered with the mention of Guthrie Stylist, Tori Hood at Shear Sensations. Excellent choice, we have that in common!  He may want to see her soon after the final performance as he sheds his overgrown locks.   The show opens on Wednesday, February 6, 2019 with a 7:30 pm evening performance and plays on Thursday evening and Friday evening also at 7:30 pm.  Saturday, February 9 there is a 2:00 pm matinee as well as the evening 7:30 pm.show, and Sunday also has a 2:00 pm matinee and the final presentation is Sunday evening again at 7:30 pm. It’s a short run, but there are seven possibilities to catch this amazing show.

The music will bring us back to our youth and these voices soar with the passion we remember—the acting is wonderful, the dancing is really like we danced!  Wild! Tickets are easily available—405-848-3761 for City-Rep’s box office or 405-974-3375 for the box office at Mitchell Hall, UCO.    Or visit www.cityrep.com or www.uco.edu online.  Act now tickets are going fast!

 

 

 

One Response to “Hair” Coming Soon to UCO from CityRep and the University of Central Oklahoma

  • So proud of Hagen and his accomplishments. He is definitely a dedicated student of the arts. I can’t wait to go see him and Libby McCormick perform in New York.

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