SUNY Cortland brings 1960s rock musical "Hair" to the stage

The following is a republished press release…to submit a community announcement, email Peter Blanchard at [email protected].

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Get ready to break out your best bellbottoms and tie-dye shirts. SUNY Cortland’s Performing Arts Department soon will bring the hit 1960s rock musical “Hair” to the stage for six performances starting Friday, Oct. 30.

The show, which is known for its portrayal of the anti-Vietnam War movement, the sex revolution and the lifestyles of “flower children,” will feature three evening performances at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30; Friday, Nov. 6; and Saturday, Nov. 7. Two Sunday matinee performances take place at 2 p.m. on Nov. 1 and Nov. 8, as well as a 2 p.m. matinee show on Saturday, Oct. 31. All shows take place in the Dowd Fine Arts Center Theatre.

Tickets may be purchased in advance online at or at the Dowd Fine Arts Center box office one hour prior to each performance. Ticket prices are $8 for all students and children, $15 for SUNY Cortland faculty, staff and senior citizens, and $18 for general admission. Audience members who wear a hippie costume to the Halloween performance will receive a special treat from the cast.

“‘Hair’ can speak to a contemporary audience again in a similar way that it spoke to audiences in the late 1960s,” said Associate Professor of Performing Arts Kevin Halpin, who directs the show. “There’s this growing sense of unrest, particularly in youth culture, about where we are in the world and the choices we make as a nation and a society.

“That’s what ‘Hair’ is all about — reexamining and rediscovering who you can be. It just seemed like a really good time to do the show.”

Written by James Rado and Gerome Ragni with music by Galt MacDermot, the former Broadway musical tells the story of a New York City-based “tribe,” a politically active group of young adults opposed to the Vietnam War despite living with conservative parents. A non-traditional storyline examines the complex relationships between members of the tribe as Claude, one of the show’s main characters, debates burning his draft card.

“The show’s about saying: think about the things we’re forbidding, about what we allow and what we don’t allow,” Halpin said. “It’s ok to send people off to potentially be killed in war, but it’s not ok to talk about sex.

“It’s ok for people to feel lost and unconnected, but it’s not ok for two people to be together who happen to be the same sex. I think we’ve grown a lot since the 1960s but I still think there’s a lot that we can talk about.”

Halpin said the show is recommended for mature audiences given its profanity, brief nudity and adult themes.

The SUNY Cortland cast stars Ben Shimkus as Claude; Andrew Cuccaro as Berger; Sarah Shaiman as Sheila; Chloe Solan as Jeannie; Ja’Quawn Turner as Hud; Matt Spina as Woof; Tara Zebrowski as Chrissy; Alondra Hughes as Dionne; Kayla Arias as Ronny; and Sean Noonan as Margaret Mead.

The “tribe” includes Olivia Andrunik, Hailey Berkowitz, John Cavasano, Maggie Edelman, Zack Enders, Nikki Ferrara, Andy Kear, Camille Parlman, Hailey Pytel, Emily Wood, Caitlin Zuckerman and Noonan.

“Hair” will be the College’s first rock musical staged since The Who’s “Tommy” seven years ago, Halpin said.

“We try to create opportunities for students to give them as many different styles as is practical over their four years here,” he said. “We look at the type of shows we’ve done recently and what we haven’t done that we still need to hit.”

The show’s opening night also aligns with an Open House event on Friday, Oct. 30, for prospective students interested in the College’s Performing Arts Department. That event is intended to give future performers a taste of SUNY Cortland’s high caliber of musical theatre talent.

“This is the great music you remember performed by an amazingly talented, fresh-faced and energized cast,” Halpin said. “They were really excited to learn about who these people of the 1960s were, and then connecting that to the things they hope to do and change.”

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