The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 10, 2014

UPJ dinner-theater relives days of ‘Hair’

Tom Lavis

JOHNSTOWN — For some Pitt-Johnstown alumni, a trip back to the ’60s might have special meaning as they attend the association’s dinner-theater production of “Hair.”

Presented by the Classical Theatre Project, the national touring company will be performing one show on May 10 at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center on campus.

But Pitt alumni must reserve a seat by Feb. 28 to take advantage of group pricing associated with the dinner-theater.

On the evening of the performance, alums will meet at 5:30 p.m. for a cocktail social at Heritage Hall in UPJ’s Living Learning Center.

Dinner will be served at 6 followed by the performance at the adjacent arts center at 7:30.

Ingrid Kloss, alumni relations coordinator, made it clear that the entire event is open to the public, not just alumni.

“There is a price discount for alumni association members,” Kloss said.

Cost is $55 for alumni members and $60 for nonmembers for the dinner and the show. Dinner-only tickets are $22 for alumni association members and $25 for nonmembers.

Kloss said the chefs from Sodexo, who provide all campus dining, will prepare a themed menu, starting with cheese fondue and hors d’oeuvres.

“That will be followed by braised apricot torched beef brisket, herb risotto cakes with smoky tomato jam, and fresh sauteed mushroom and pea ragout, plus dessert, of course,” she said.

Kloss expects an entertaining and casual evening.

“People like to talk and visit at the dinner since they have to be quiet during the show,” she said. “We sometimes are able to get someone from the show to speak to us briefly and give some information and background on the performance we are about to see.”

“Hair” is an avant-garde tale that explicitly reflects the emotions and drug-influenced experiences of the hippie generation while rebelliously subsisting through the chaotic Vietnam War era.

“Hair” premiered on Broadway in 1968 and was the first production that showed full frontal nudity. No worries about that with the Pasquerilla performance.

The production, with a cast of 16 and accompanied by a live orchestra, brings the show back to its origins but with a few updates.

“This is the no-nudity version, although there is adult language and the context is Vietnam-era, free love, with references to sex and drugs,” Kloss said. “It is best for ages 14 and over or by the discretion of parents.”

Michael Bodolosky, arts center executive director, encouraged other groups to take advantage of available discounts and enjoy a variety of dining experiences associated with the theater.

“Groups could choose to dine at the Living Learning Center, or the university’s food service provider can serve a catered meal in our backstage studio in the heart of the arts center,” Bodolosky said.

“If corporations, church groups or civic organizations take advantage of the combination, it’s not unusual for one the actors in the production to make an appearance at the meal.”

Last year’s alumni dinner-theater attracted 42 people, for a university theater  department production of “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.”

The association has blocked off five dozen tickets to accommodate guests.

“Once we are sold out, people can still come to the dinner but will need to go to the box office at the Pasquerilla arts center for tickets,” Kloss said.

 Regular performance tickets are priced at $43 and $39.

 “It is a great way to meet new people, to meet fellow alums if you are a Pitt grad, or meet other folks who enjoy theater and a nice night out,” Kloss said.

’60s hit returns

What: “Hair,” Pitt-Johnstown Alumni Association dinner-theater.

Where: Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, 450 Schoolhouse Road, Richland Township.

When: 5:30 May 10.

Tickets: At the box office, call 269-7200 or visit

Cost: $55 for alumni members and $60 for nonmembers for the dinner and show. Dinner-only tickets are $22 for alumni and $25 for nonmembers.

Tom Lavis covers Features for the Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on LavisTD.