Brushing Up HAIR for a New Generation: Allison Guinn Is No Happy Hippie and That’s OK

Posted on: May 18th, 2011 By:

HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical; Fox Theatre; May 17-22; Ticketmaster; presented by Broadway Across America.

When actress Allison Guinn showed up for a 700-person cattle call audition for Tony Award-winning revival of HAIR, she had 16 bars to show she had what it takes to join what most people think of as a celebration of peace, love and understanding. She picked Janis Joplin’s “Turtle Blues” and screamed “I’m a mean, mean woman, and I don’t mean one man no good.” She was certain that she wouldn’t get cast.

Then three weeks later, Allison found out that seemingly risky choice was exactly the right one to make, scoring her the part of a disgruntled hippie in the Tribe ensemble. “Director Diane Paulus took my hand and led me down a hall of pictures, then she pointed at one of Grace Slick looking really heavy and giving me the finger,” Allison recalls. “She said, ‘That’s you.’” Later Allison would also get two more roles as the conservative Mother of draft-resistor protagonist Claude and a Buddhist monk called Buddhadalirama.

HAIR has a reputation for being the hippie-dippie musical. After all, what’s more New Agey sounding than “Let the Sunshine In” and “Age of Aquarius.” But Guinn, who’s more into the less cheerful early ‘60s beat generation than the late ‘60s Summer of Love counter-culture says, not so fast. “It’s easy to paint with broad strokes and say this show has such wonderful bright colors and we say ‘love’ every fifth word,” she adds. “But it’s not just all laidback and groovy. It’s about this quest for a new life because the old way of life obviously isn’t working. Society is at a boiling point. All these people have been killed [in Vietnam], all these riots happened, it’s a period of great change, and these people are at the pinnacle of it.

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