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Entertainment & Lifestyle

Free-flowing ‘Hair’ revival coming to Akron

2/28/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Brian Crawford Scott, shown at center with the cast of “Hair,” plays Berger in the national tour coming to E.J. Thomas Hall March 5-6.
Photo: Scott Sloan
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Brian Crawford Scott has moved from one circus to another as one of the main cast members in “Hair,” coming to The University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall March 5-6.

Scott, a San Jose, Calif., native, is part of the national touring production of the 1960s musical celebrating the “Age of Aquarius.” He was cast in the fall after spending two years traveling the country as the 36th Ringmaster of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

“The circus was an amazing experience,” Scott said. “I’m really glad I did it. It was an extraordinarily large amount of work. And who doesn’t like to brag that they used to work with an elephant. But it feels really good to be back in musical theater.”

“Hair” depicts the birth of the cultural movement in the 1960s that changed America forever through the Tribe, a group of charismatic, free-spirited young people who passionately preach a lifestyle of pacifism and free love in a society riddled with intolerance and brutality during the Vietnam War.

As Berger, one of the members of the Tribe, Scott said he gets to play a character that has been described as “the engine” of the hippie group and is in contrast with the character of Claude, who is the Tribe’s leader.

“He’s very energetic, always driving the tribe into different directions and games and ideas, but at the same time he’s very irreverent and loves the hedonistic side of the hippie movement,” Scott said of Berger. “Therein lies a little bit of the conflict because Claude is far more troubled and feeling down while Berger is just ‘Screw the world, I’m going to do whatever I want.’”

Actors James Rado and Gerome Ragni conceived “Hair,” which premiered off-Broadway in October 1967. It was moved to Broadway a few months later and ran for four years. A revival was staged on Broadway in 2009 and won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical.

Scott said he was not very familiar with the show before he tried out for the role. although he knew some of the songs from the musical.

“I had to do a little bit of research and digging to understand what this character was and what this revival was,” he said. “I remember walking into the process thinking, ‘This is that hippie musical,’ but now that I’ve done the research and now that we’re living in it, it’s changed us and been an eye-opening experience.”

Scott said he loves the scene where the title song is sung, as well as the closing number, “Let the Sunshine In.” He thinks the show’s message is still relevant today.

“The show is obviously set in the late 1960s; that’s the color, the backdrop, that gives us the costumes and the language, but the themes like free love, rebelling against unpopular wars and freedom in general — those themes are still relevant,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you were born in that era — you can still relate, so the show is timeless.”

And he added that audiences have responded favorably to the revival.

“We run the gamut of different people,” he said. “We see older audience members who eat it up, and the season ticket holders who saw ‘Cinderella’ last week. At the end of the day, everyone leaves satisfied and happy.”

Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.com, the Thomas Hall Ticket Office, all TicketMaster outlets or by calling 800-745-3000. For additional information, go to www.uaevents.com. E.J. Thomas is located at 198 Hill St.

The show’s promoters caution that the show is for mature audiences and there is a short scene involving dimly lit nudity of a nonsexual nature.

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