Getting into character with the Hair ensemble

For the cast of Hair, staying in character does not end when the curtain falls. Since November, this ensemble of 27 actors has lived and breathed this band of colourful hippies and the characters they portray.

Hair takes to the University Theatre stage, Feb. 9-11 and 13 at 8 p.m. nightly, and Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. and midnight.

For Jocelyn Haub and Ian McFarlane, becoming hippies is about more than just putting on a costume – it is all in the attitude.

"We had to extensively research the era and create a story for each of our characters," says Jocelyn, who plays Sheila. "We were required to interview people who experienced the 1960s and could give us an idea of what it was really like. The script has no information or back-story for our characters, so it was up to us to bring them to life."

Understanding the significance of the 1960s and the lifestyles characters may have led was a team effort.

"Our dramaturge, Katherine Smith, was constantly digging up information we could use to create a more authentic experience on stage. We were even given a list containing hundreds of slang terms from the 60s as reference," Haub says. "It has been fun to bond over our characters."

"The cast is by far the single best I've had the pleasure of working with," adds Ian McFarlane, who plays Berger. "Our cast is made up of students and professors from across campus, not just from Fine Arts. Ife Abiola, who spends his days studying bugs in biology, plays one of the main characters, Hud. It's been amazing to get to know and work with everyone."

Putting together a musical of this calibre was not easy.

"There are more than 30 musical numbers to learn," Haub says. "There are lots and lots of words to memorize and you also have to bring out your character, keep up with the choreography, and hit all the right notes!"

"It's a refreshing view, what these people did to make a change," says McFarlane. "They found an identity and fought for their rights the best they knew how. I believe their story has a real impact on today's society."

Haub says the themes of Hair still resonate.

"The message of peace, love and happiness is significant," adds Haub. "These people didn't want to live in the social stereotypes and were determined to find their own path. They lived their beliefs, and this musical truly captures the essence of their life."