‘Let the Sunshine In’ at the CDC

The dress rehearsal for ‘Hair’ is underway at the Cranford Dramatic Club. The famed musical will be presented from Friday, May 3, to Sunday, May 19, at CDC, 78 Winans Ave, Cranford.

CRANFORD, NJ — It’s the dawning of the age of Aquarius at Cranford Dramatic Club.

The groundbreaking Grammy and Tony Award-winning musical “Hair” will be presented from Friday, May 3, to Sunday, May 19, at CDC, 78 Winans Ave, Cranford.

“Hair” tells the story of a group of politically active, free-thinking hippies living in New York City during the time of the Vietnam War. It’s also the time of the sexual revolution. Three great songs came from the play: “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” by The Fifth Dimension; “Good Morning Starshine” by Oliver; and “Hair” by The Cowsills.

Because of the opening song, “Aquarius” director Michael Kidney felt it was important to do birth charts for each character. Kidney said he’s absolutely into astrology and, as an Aquarian himself, he said, jokingly, “Destined for greatness or madness.” Every single person in the cast has created a character with a backstory.

Kidney said he tries to keep the rehearsal process fun for the cast. He likes to guide them, as opposed to making the decisions as to where to stand. He feels that is more fulfilling for them as actors. “That’s how I keep them engaged and motivated and excited to come to rehearsal,” Kidney said. “It’s not just me doing the work.”

While Kidney is organized and did his homework about the play beforehand, and two of the actors had already done the show in other theaters, he realized the importance of research. “Nobody in the cast was alive during the Vietnam War, including myself,” he said. “We’re not making up a story. This is real life.”

The cast ranges from ages 20 to 37 and are all different races and gender identities.

“Great mix of people,” Kidney said.

What’s most outstanding about “Hair,” according to Kidney, is the music — almost 60 songs in the show. “One great song after another,” he said. “They sound incredible.”

As for the controversial aspects of the original play, there’s no walking on the flag at CDC. “My goal is to respect the flag,” said Kidney.

But other important topics are addressed. “Hud has a whole song about what it’s like being a black man in America at that time. It makes people think.”

Kidney also said he feels that the goal of the show, no matter what generation is performing it, should be “shocking to some degree.”
With a cast of 25 actors, plus Kidney, his stage manager and musical director, scheduling was a challenge. “Everybody who is involved has a day job,” said Kidney.

But making the audience feel something is what will be most rewarding to Kidney. “There’s something about ‘Hair’ that strikes deep within the soul,” he said. “If we can affect one person in the audience, the cast has done its job.”

The ending of the show — when the cast sings, “Let the Sunshine In” — makes Kidney emotional. He calls it an “incredible moving moment.”

Kidney feels he has an “incredible team” behind him, including producer Joe Leo. “He helps me every step of the way,” he said.

For tickets, visit: https://www.cdctheatre.org/hair.html.

Photo Courtesy of Michael Kidney