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NCC Theater celebrates the arts, old and new

With the semester starting up, the NCC theater department prepares to put on two productions for the fall: one musical and one play, as it does annually. The shows this semester are “Hair” directed by Bill Mutimer and “Suburbia” directed by Chris Egging. While they are different in terms of setting and tone, both shows have themes that are relevant to today and will stay with you and make you think long after the curtain call.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, “Hair” set in New York City in 1967, follows a group of young college-aged hippies living in a communal tribe in the East Village protesting the war in Vietnam. The musical explores issues of racism in America, poverty, the generational gap, sexual liberation, and the anti-war movement in ways that were considered, and still are controversial, yet ground-breaking for the time.

Despite being written 50 years ago, the themes and the way they are discussed are still relevant to the present, says Mutimer.

“The music is universal, and it’s very catchy and it’s also very thought-provoking because it’s poetry set to music.”

When asked what his hopes for what the audience would take away from the show, he said, “I want them to come with an open mind because I want them to look back at a show that was written 50 years ago, with the themes of the show ‘Have we grown?’ You know, you would hope that in the course of 50 years of life things would grow or change, but have we really grown or moved that far from 1967 to 2017?”

“Suburbia” is set in a quiet suburban neighborhood that exists both everywhere and nowhere in 1994. It focuses on a group of friends, Jeff, Buff, and Tim; they are aimless in life, unable to move forward in life to achieve their goals or even to leave their hometown. To cope, they drink, hang out in front of convenience stores, relive their high school glory-days, and ponder their relationships.

When an old friend who found success returns to visit, tensions rise, feelings are laid bare, and for better or for worse, everything changes. The feelings of disillusionment among the young, insecurity, having trouble navigating one’s life, and wondering if there’s a point to it all are common sentiments for each generation.

What makes every take on these emotions is how the characters react to their circumstances. As Sean Catino, who plays Pony said, “I think that the way all the characters react, not only are they on a wide spectrum, but their reactions are very real. It’s such a dynamic piece that has such a living essence of idle youth that I think really makes it applicable to a lot of modern audiences, especially at a college like this. I feel like a lot of students are going to find really raw organic things to relate to when they’re seeing this.”

“Hair” will run from October 19-22 in the Lipkin Theater. “Suburbia” will be preformed November 17-21 in the Norman R. Roberts Lab Theater. Admission is free with the donation of a non-perishable food item.