Being the oldest member of a young cast has its advantages, including providing some insight behind the scenes of a local production.
Tracy Summerville, who has been performing for about 30 years, is one of 25 cast members in Hair, a rock musical presented by Excalibur Theatre Arts Company until July 3 at the P.G. Playhouse.
Summerville has several roles throughout the play with her main character being the mother of a member of the Tribe. While she wishes her son would just go to dentist school like her friend's son, he is all about peace, love and happiness.
Summerville said she went away from performing for a little while as she was busy with her education and career.
"Then I found the fantastic Excalibur family when I came to Prince George in 1996," said Summerville, who thinks it's good for her 10-year-old daughter to see her mom doing something that requires time and commitment. "I think the young people in this show are just amazing. They're going to school, they're doing their homework, they're going to festivals, they're teaching classes and then dancing and learning their lines. And they're here learning their choreography and being leaders to some of the others as well. I think it's an extraordinary thing to watch. I really love that about the studio. It gives that really healthy environment."
There are several short scenes in the show that provide important historical references and Summerville said the scene where she tells her son how she feels is very telling of the mindset for many people in mainstream society in the 60s.
The previous Excalibur show was Miss Saigon which spoke to the issues people were having in Vietnem during the same era. In Hair we get to see what's going on during the Flower Child movement of the 60s.
"This is a very interesting show," said Summerville. "I was also in Miss Saigon and this is the other side of the story. My real life job is a political scientist so for me to be part of those two stories - to see some of the tensions that took place during that time is something that I treat as a bit of a study about how people behave and choices they make and what was really going on then. I kind of get a double whammy out of the whole thing. It's not just entertainment. It's a bit of an education, too."
People will know songs made famous by Hair when they hear them, including Aquarius, Let the Sunshine In, Good Morning Starshine and Believe in Love.
"I think most people will remember most of the songs but a lot of people don't remember the story," said Summerville.
Hair tells the story of a group of politically active hippies called the Tribe, who were living the bohemian lifestyle in New York as they protested the Vietnam War. The characters in the play try to balance their lives, loves and the sexual revolution with their rebellion against the war, their conservative parents and society.
Summerville thinks Prince George has a lot of talent.
"I'm not really sure people who grew up here recognize the depth of talent in this community," she said. "It is extraordinary and when we can send out many young people to all levels who are working professionally I think that's amazing. This is a chance to see real talent in Prince George. There are some amazing voices here. I always have to pinch myself when I leave to make sure I'm really part of this."
There is no nudity or violence in this G-rated version of Hair.
Tickets are available at Studio 2880 or by calling 250-563-2880.