"Hair" opens Saturday at Chicago Street Theatre in Valparaiso.


Bob Cooley, director of Valparaiso’s Chicago Street Theatre’s “Hair,” expects audiences to hum their way out the door of the production of the classic musical.

“Once you hear those songs, you can’t get them out of your spirit,” he said. “I know that I’ve never been able to.”

Opening Saturday and running through Oct. 29, “Hair” follows members of “the tribe,” a group of young adults finding their way through life during the turbulent '60s. Together and individually, members of “the tribe” lament, through conversation and song, subjects such as war, race, religion, culture and sexuality.

“Hair” made its debut off-Broadway in 1967 and graduated to the Great White Way a year later. Featuring stage and pop favorites such as “Age of Aquarius,” “Let the Sun Shine In” “Good Morning Starshine” and “Easy to Be Hard,” “Hair” ran for more than 1,700 performances and was nominated for a pair of Tony Awards.

In 2009, “Hair” was revived on Broadway, where it took home a Tony for Best Revival of a Musical.

While keeping true to the story and songs, Cooley hopes his production of “Hair” avoids the nostalgia trap.

“My goal is to put on a version that is in the now as it was then, to have my characters live in that time and to comment on our time” he said. “I want to make a piece of living theater that we can relate to now.”

“I am not going to overtly comment on current politics,” Cooley added. “We’re going to keep the piece in its time, but there are (present day) relevances that we hope will strike you.”

A cast of 15 Region-based thesps and singers makes up Chicago Street’s “Hair” production.

“I am really excited about our cast,” Cooley said. “It’s a young cast and they’re working real hard. They have personality. They’re energetic and I think that our audiences are really going to fall for them.”

Next up for Chicago Street Theatre is a production of the holiday favorite “It’s a Wonderful Life,” scheduled to open Nov. 24.

FYI: “Hair” runs at 8 p.m. Saturday and Oct. 20 and Oct. 27-28; 2:30 p.m. Sunday and Oct. 21-22 and 29 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19 and 26 at Chicago Street Theatre, 154 W. Chicago St.,Valparaiso. Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors, veterans and students. Call 219-464-1636 or visit CHICAGOSTREET.ORG