BWW Interview: Chloe Marie of HAIR at Theatre Baton Rouge

BWW Interview: Chloe Marie of HAIR at Theatre Baton RougeThe year 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the rock musical, HAIR and Theatre Baton Rouge is celebrating with a two-week run of the show, opening Friday, August 18, and running through Sunday, August 27.

HAIR, with book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, and music by Galt MacDermot tells the story of the "tribe," a group of politically active, long-haired hippies who live the bohemian lifestyle in New York City, and fight against conscription in the Vietnam War.

The show premiered off-Broadway in 1967 and earned a Tony nomination for Best Musical in 1969. The 2009 revival received the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. BroadwayWorld.com sat down with Dionne's actress Chloe Marie and talked shop about the show, the differences between performing with a band and singing in a play, and how the show speaks to audiences of today.

BWW: What attracted you to audition for the show, and were you initially set on the role of Dionne?

Marie: Yeah, I was very familiar with HAIR...it's always been one of my favorite musicals because I grew up knowing the song "Aquarius," and I'm an Aquarius. My sun sign is Aquarius, my moon sign is as well, so I've always been particularly attached to that song. When I found out that that song was from a musical, I looked into it and fell in love with it. I love the film and all the music. So, when I heard that Baton Rouge was doing it, I felt like I absolutely had to audition and I wanted to be Dionne because she gets to sing "Aquarius" and I always felt connected to that.

BWW: That's neat that both your sun and moon sign are Aquarius.

Marie: I'm as Aquarius as you can get.

BWW: How has the rehearsal process been for you thus far?

Marie: It's been really incredible. All of my cast mates and production team are absolutely wonderful. It was so overwhelming, in a good way, to go into the first rehearsal and sing "The Flesh Failures/Let the Sunshine In" and everyone just really killing at their parts. It's also been very challenging for me because it is the most physically involved show that I have ever done. There is lots of singing and dancing at the same time, and we have Tony Collins doing choreography. His choreography is very intense, and it tells the story really well. It's such a challenge, especially since I haven't done a play in two years, so I wasn't used to the singing and dancing and everything again. It's definitely been a really good process in pushing myself.

BWW: What are some of the differences between performing with your band and performing in a musical?

Marie: I love being able to go back and forth. With the band, there is so much variation that often nothing is going to be done the same way for each show you do. It's also more relaxed in a way, because people, for the most part, don't know what they're listening for, or people aren't particularly attached to one idea. Whereas in a musical everyone adds their own spin to their characters and their songs, but there's still a way that the song has to be portrayed. The songwriter put these things specifically in there. With the band, there is far less pressure, but I love the structure of theatre. I love having a skeleton of my character to work with and then it's up to me to put flesh to it, and with a band, you're working your way from the ground up.

BWW: Tell me about Dionne and how you identify with her as well as differ from her.

Marie: Dionne is an independent feminist in every way. She's proud; she's strong. She's living in a time where people finally see that things really need to change. She's dealing with Civil Rights and dealing with women's issues and dealing with sexual liberation all at one time, and I think Dionne as a character, in particular, is good at staying firm at who she is and not being swayed by all the negativity and the naysayers. She's living the hippie life to the fullest extent, and she doesn't care what people think, and I think in a lot of ways I see myself because I definitely believe in love as the ultimate answer and being strong and unapologetic in the face of adversity.

BWW: What are some of the themes in HAIR that would resonate with today's audiences?

Marie: Honestly the theme in the song "Colored Spade," I think is still particularly relevant because it plays on these ideas that people have about minorities or people who don't really fit into the culture. Songs like that in particular in scenes with those general themes still speak very loudly today because there is a lack of communication between different communities and I think there is still a lot of things that people don't understand. Like how black people are still viewed as violent or like gang bangers, and things like that, that's really what that song is really about. It's making fun of "This is what you think about us, but we're gonna show you how absurd it is." I also think the scene where Claude is talking about going to war and not wanting to be drafted. I think even though the draft is something that's not active today; I still think that it's important for people to hear anti-imperialist messages, anti-war messages because we're constantly in a state of war whether people understand that or not.

BWW: Do you have any other songs from HAIR that you particularly love?

Marie: I think my favorite song is "Walking in Space" as part of a trip sequence and it's pretty much where we get really psychedelic then we start talking about how we're feeling and how we're experiencing these things that we're doing. It's just a really beautiful moment. I love the way that the music changes. I love how it starts out really slow, and it heightens by the end and emotions are absolutely everywhere. I love that one, and also "Flesh Failures" will always be a favorite. We honestly, almost all of us, cry every time we go to rehearsal because it's such an intense song. Our music director shared with us the idea of saying "letting the sunshine in" as a plea and it opens so many doors, and we all get very emotional about it.

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