For countless years, people have been witness to stories. Stories were painted onto the walls of ancient caves. They have been carved onto wood, ivory, and stone and printed onto parchment and paper. They have been passed down by word of mouth, recorded on film and stored electronically in digital form. The audience of Gustavus Adolphus College’s production of Hair has been witness to the story of a group of politically active, longhaired hippies fighting against conscription into the Vietnam War, but often, they miss out on the preface.
“A lot of people, just by watching the show, miss how much time, energy, passion, blood, sweat, and tears go into every show,” Senior Costume Designer Jessica Kempen said.
A crucial part of a performance happens behind the scenes, both before a production is mounted and during its run. Before a production like Hair is even introduced to the Gustavus cast, the director must decide on a show that is viable for the participating students.
“When I do a show, I think about a lot of things. I think about what is going to be castable at Gustavus, what is going to be feasible and what does the musical have to say. For a number of years, I wanted to do Hair, but I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to cast enough diversity. This year, we had enough people participating that we could actually do the show,” Direcor Amy Seham said.
After the show was picked and casted, many of the production wheels were able to start spinning. The director of the show, director of music, costume designer, choreographer and cast all began collaborating as one to bring the show to life. With only one month, the rehearsal schedule was frantic.
“During J-term, we were having eight-hour rehearsals every day which is absolutely crazy. I just wish people could have been a fly on the wall for the rehearsals sometimes. They would get to see how much input everyone, including the cast, has in making the show amazing,” Music Director Michael Asmus said.
While everyone works together toward the same goal: of creating the best production, theatre has certain spontaneous charms that make a particular kind of experience for each person involved. A costume designer working toward her major, a music director who had set himself up for the position in high school, a choreographer who, as a former alum, couldn’t resist coming back, and a cast member trying to prove himself, all create their own stories through this production.
“This show has been really trying for me to prove myself to the director, other cast members, and myself that if I want to major in this, I have to be good at what I do and dedicated. But we all became such a close family in the end, and I learned that I will always prioritize theatre because it’s what I love,” First-Year Andy Lupinek said.