Reviving a modern spirit of the 1960s with song, and nudity

Jen Balao

CSUN’s production of the musical “Hair,” which closed last weekend, was an extremely energetic show powered by the great and courageous talents of its cast. The story was blatant, compelling and hilarious.

The hour and 45 minute performance was never at any point predictable but at every opportunity shocking with parodies of religion, drugs, sex and war. However, the humor did not deviate from the serious messages of the musical.

In the director’s notes of the musical’s program, Garry Lennon, a CSUN faculty member since 1999, said, “I originally thought we (as a society) had made great leaps forward into social equality, rights for all citizens regardless of race, sex, sexual preferences, and age, but every time I read the headlines I found stories to counter my optimism.”

Lennon went on to say he believes the musical, which came out in the late 1960s, still has significance today.

Consequently, some may have had their religious or political views shaken or disturbed many times during the performance.

The show features the relationships of a close band of “hippies” who protest war and advocate love ? and other things.

“Drop Acid Not Bombs,” was one of their slogans.

The nudity, however, may have been the most awkward part of the show for some. Toward the very end of the first act, many of the characters appeared on stage fully unclothed, which was, to say the least, unexpected.

The dim lighting may have served to lessen the extremity of the scene, but overall, the risqu? act of completely undressing and bearing all was an exclamation point underscoring the message of the musical.

Even though the content was more mature and more controversial than the average musical, the student actors handled the material very well.

In his notes Lennon wrote, “It is impossible to sum up my experience with this extraordinary group of artists. I have never felt such love, commitment and dedication to a project in my life.”

The entire cast was filled with strong singers, but the voice of Sarah Modelowitz Walsh was particularly spectacular. She opened the musical by singing “Aquarius,” and despite that being her only solo, her vocal performance was one of the most impressive of the evening.

As the last production of the spring semester, this funny and compelling musical was a wonderful way to close the school year.

Jen Balao can be reached at ane@sundial.csun.edu.