Circle Theatre explores social themes through HAIR


Courtesy / MLive

Allison Rafferty, Staff Writer

The well-known and thought-provoking rock musical “HAIR” is being presented by the Grand Rapids Circle Theatre for three weekends in September, showing from Sept. 9-11, 15-19 and 22-25. 

Rated R for adult content, language, and references to drugs, sex, race, and violence, “HAIR” explores and celebrates the sixties counterculture.

Executive and Artistic Director of Circle Theatre Lynne Brown Tepper said that the musical “tells the story of the ‘tribe,’ a group of politically active, long-haired hippies of the ‘Age of Aquarius’ living a bohemian life in New York City and fighting against conscription into the Vietnam War.”

The musical centers around the main characters attempting to balance their loves, lives and the sexual revolution in tandem with the temptation to evade the draft and revolt against the war, their parents, and the society at large. 

Tepper said when selecting shows for the season Circle Theatre tries to have something for everyone, while also challenging and exploring world views of today.

“Previous shows in the season have been humorous, heartfelt and dramatic,” Tepper said. “’HAIR’ is a celebration but also a commentary on the world in which it takes place, the year 1969, and the world we live in today. The message of the show is timeless and, in fact, very relevant with what is happening in the world today.”

Circle Theatre performer and “HAIR” cast member Phoebe Dawson said this is her first time performing a show that explores such heavy concepts. 

“This show is not for the faint-hearted,” Dawson. “This show is in your face with the many social issues of then and now, and we hope that by seeing the show it will ‘Let the Sunshine In.’”

She said that her goal for the performance is not only to explore these issues but also to promote positive ideologies. 

“We are here to spread love and peace to one another, and I hope the audience walks away wanting to spread the love with their friends and families, and even complete strangers,” Dawson said. “We all need a little more empathy, peace, and love.” 

With ideas of identity, community, global responsibility and peace being explored through rock music, “HAIR” is a popular and pertinent performance that Circle Theatre actors said they are thrilled to put on. 

I’m excited to share the love and share the togetherness,” Dawson said. “I hope it sparks conversation and continues to help us grow as a society.”