‘Hair’ sells out, connects with audience on opening night

Megan Rozsa

Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll filled the air in the sold-out opening night of “Hair.”

“It’s a new journey every night,” said third-year musical theatre major Justin Gentry. “If you come to the show two nights in a row, it’s going to be a totally different show than the night before.”

Gentry plays the lead role of Berger, a free-styling hippie in the Vietnam era.

“The story of ‘Hair’ is just important now as it was then,” Gentry said. “And Victoria Bussert really personalized it with what happened in Kent. It makes the audience feel like they’re a part of Kent heritage.”

Bussert is a guest director brought to Kent State by the Roe Green Visiting Director Series. She is the director of the musical theatre program at Baldwin-Wallace College.

Many cast members were unsure of how the audience would react to the controversial issues the play unfolds.

“Basically each night is like improv,” said junior musical theatre major Jessica Beaudry. “Whatever happens, happens. It’s a new show every night.”

Gentry said the cast tries to build a new rapport with the audience each night. The cast interacts with the audience, dancing on chairs and talking to single members of the crowd.

“We were really able to feel our parts out,” Beaudry said. “It was an organic process.”

Beaudry, who is a member of the tribe, said Bussert made each member research their characters and find how they fit into the Vietnam-hippie culture.

“Everything you research adds to your character,” Beaudry said.

Patrick Clement, senior musical theatre major, plays the role of Woof, a vibrant character with a huge crush on Mick Jagger.

“After rehearsing with no audience for so long, it’s nice to have the interaction,” Clement said. “The energy we get has been amazing.”

He said if the audience doesn’t get into it at first, they get into it eventually, adding, “The best part is just telling the story.”

“Hair” opened Friday and will continue until Feb. 25. Performances start at 8 p.m. with a matinee performance at 2 p.m. Feb. 25.

Contact performing arts reporter Megan Rozsa at [email protected].