Cap & Bells Explores the ‘Age of Aquarius’
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
PHILADELPHIA (October 12, 2010)—Peace, love and shaggy locks might seem like relics from the past, but for five performances this month, Saint Joseph’s University students will immerse themselves in the counterculture of the 1960s as the Cap & Bells Dramatic Arts Society opens its 83rd season with the Tony Award-winning musical Hair. The show opens on Wednesday, Oct. 27 at 8 p.m., and runs through Halloween afternoon, Sunday, Oct. 31.
The show, which follows a group of teenagers through their rebellion against conservative society and the Vietnam War, debuted off-Broadway in 1967 and moved to Broadway a year later, where it played for more than 1,700 performances. It was the first-ever musical to feature a score based on rock and roll, including the now-popular “Aquarius,” “Let the Sun Shine In” and “Good Morning Starshine.” Its popularity has inspired a film version and multiple revivals, including a 2009 Broadway revival that earned a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for best revival.
“Hair is about the war in Vietnam and the struggle youth at the time had with the implications of forced participation through the draft,” said Renee Dobson, M.F.A., associate professor of fine and performing arts and Cap & Bells’ co-artistic director. “I chose the show in part because it speaks to current global war conflicts and the social consciousness that today’s college students have because of it.”
Tied into the anti-draft sentiment are strong messages against segregation: the characters realize that poor people and especially minorities are unable to avoid the draft and fight for anti-racism. “Some of what the youth did in the 1960s— the drug culture in particular—was rebellious and misguided, but a lot of the social justice message were right-minded,” Dobson said. “As a Jesuit institution, Saint Joseph's values social justice, so there’s a lot in the show that we can celebrate.”
With its unique view of an exciting period of American history, Hair is “what University theatre programs should be striving to do,” Dobson said. “Its political commentary is challenging for the cast and the audience. The rehearsals are engaging the students; I am hearing them start to talk about the themes in the show and how they apply today.”
Dobson cautions that, because of adult subject matter, Hair is not recommended for children under the age of 14. The show runs Wednesday, Oct. 27 through Saturday, Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. and on Sunday, Oct. 31 at 2 p.m. at Bluett Theatre, Post Hall, on Overbrook Ave. near 56th Street. Tickets are $16 for general admission, $9 for all students and SJU faculty and staff and $5 for senior citizens and children under 12. To reserve tickets, call 610-660-1181. For more information on the show or Cap & Bells, visit http://www.sju.edu/capandbells.
Cap & Bells’ season continues in February with the 2008 play Dead Man’s Cell Phone and concludes in April with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical The Phantom of the Opera.