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Q&A with Caren Lyn Tacket from “HAIR”

Tony Award-winning musical “HAIR” will be performed Tuesday, Dec. 7 through Sunday, Dec.12 at ASU Gammage. The show follows a group of young Americans, as they search for peace and love during the 1960s. Caren Lyn Tacket, who plays Sheila, spoke with The State Press about the show, her family and more.

The State Press: “HAIR” seems so relevant in today’s time. Young people still struggle with their identity and the fact that we’re in a war. Everything still seems relevant to today. It’s ridiculous.

Caren Lyn Tacket: I know. It’s ridiculous, I know! It’s a romantically kind of beautiful thing and it’s so sad and unfortunate at the same time. It’s ridiculous.

SP: You would feel as though, in 50 years, something would be different.

CLT: It’s awesome to see that people from all different generations are coming and relating and being moved by it. At the same time, it’s just so damn sad and unfortunate and it makes you go, “Geez, what did we not do? What are we not doing? How many different situations can we come up with that end up the same, you know?

SP: Are you drawing on your own experiences as a young adult or today’s world? What are you doing for your character?

CLT: Absolutely. I was raised with a mom who was very different as far as women go. A lot of the time people’s parents, as a woman, want you to get married or go through college and meet the person you’re going to meet and have kids, and your parents can have grandkids, but my parents were very, “Never get married. Never have kids. Go do your career. Believe in yourself,” kind of people. …

This character [Sheila] is so awesome as a woman. She goes to D.C. She gets it done, and her buddies are still in Central Park tripping out and stuff like that. But she actually wants to go and try and levitate the Pentagon and really try and make change happen, and she’s an NYU student. In my mind though, Diane Paulus, our director, made us do all these exercises for our characters where we really had to figure out where they came from and where they’re going. [Sheila] is going to graduate college. She’s going to probably be a lobbyist for environmental causes and all kinds of things, you know? … I really like being able to play a progressive character in the ’60s. It was also kind of love-stricken and torn and very romantic and traditional.

SP: Before the tour stop in Tempe, “HAIR” was in Washington, D.C.  It is really cool that you started there with all of the politics that have been going on there right now.

CLT: It’s pretty amazing, and I was pretty excited anyway because of the Jon Stewart-Stephen Colbert rally. I mean, let’s keep it real — that was pretty exciting, except we had two shows that day, and we couldn’t go but we went before the thing started, and it was pretty exciting. And I have a 3-year-old with me, and my husband is also with me. We’re all on tour together … She is pretty hardcore. She is pretty feminized. She’s a 3-year-old. Her name is Raven, and she can tell you the whole story of Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth better than pretty much a lot of people my own age, I bet.

SP: Are they going to travel with you the whole time?

CLT: Oh yeah. She’s a tour baby pretty much. I did the “RENT” tour last year actually. We came through the same place … and she was not even 2 yet … so she’s used to being on the road and going all kinds of good places and learning things and all that stuff. She’s pretty advanced, and she’s a ham at the same time.

SP: What’s been your favorite role in the past?

CLT: Wow, well I’m not trying to sell tickets here, but this one, I think, as far as roles that you don’t create for yourself, because as an artist you’re always trying to create your own work of art. I don’t think [any show] could be more appropriate for me [than] this one, I have to say. I feel the most drawn to [Sheila]. I feel the most drawn to this show, and I’m a big “RENT” fan. I loved doing that show, and I got to understudy Mimi and Maureen and play a few other roles in that show. And I always used to say “Rent” absolutely, and that holds a huge place in my heart, but this role and this show are pretty intense … I think maybe that’s why I feel it so deeply.

SP: What’s your favorite number in the show?

CLT: It’s that crazy moment where — I don’t even know what the name of the damn song is , but it’s right after everybody explodes after they yell “Claude, Claude, Claude!” three times, and this crazy music starts … And I know the song has a title, but I just can’t think of it right now. … I love it. It kind of reminds me of a Portishead song. It’s got an amazing groove, and it’s saying some pretty intense stuff … pushing in your face all these injuries you can get from shrapnel and gun fire and war, and the music and the lighting and the moment — you can’t really beat it as far as trying to make a statement. [“Three-Five-Zero-Zero” is the name of the song.]

SP: Do you have fun with all of the costumes?

CLT: Yes! Everyone’s costumes are perfect. I mean, [costume designer] Michael McDonald really did an amazing job. He did this thing where he really was realistic about what everyone wore and what each character would want to wear, and the statement they would make in every single item of clothing that they’re making. He didn’t just sort of go to the thrift stores and be like, “Give me a whole bunch of ’60s crap.” He really thought it out because he didn’t want anyone to be a caricature of themselves. He wanted it all to make sense. He constantly gave us literature and visuals of “This is what I based this on, and this is what I based that on.” And my character actually doesn’t have a lot of huge ’60s frill. She’s kind of a serious person. She’s a student, and she’s not as into the glamour of it all as she is the cause and the activism of it all. I remember when I joined the company, being like, “Damnit, I want some frills,” but it totally makes sense that my character needs to be wearing what she’s wearing.

SP: Are you excited to come to Arizona?

CLT: I’m really excited to come to Arizona! It’s going to sound really shallow of me, but there’s this one particular store [Hippie Gypsy] where I bought a whole lot of clothes last year, and I’m literally saving a whole entire paycheck to get there, so I can go to the store and buy out the whole entire store one more time.

Tickets for “HAIR” can be purchased online at www., over the phone by calling 1-800-982-ARTS (2787) or in person by visiting the ASU Gammage box office.

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