Your first pet. Your first kiss. Your first car. Most of us can recall a variety of “firsts” from our own lives.
But Caren Lyn Tackett of Boston, who performs the role of the Sheila in the current touring production of the Broadway musical Hair, recalls something more.
Stories of her parents’ first date – that night in the ‘70s when her mom took her dad to see the musical Hair during one of its earlier incarnations.
Eventually they married, and counted a signed cast album of Hair among their most prized possessions. Tackett grew up listening to the record over and over again. “I was obsessed with it,” she recalls.
Tackett first performed in Hair with the NYC Central Park production during 2008, and says she was especially thrilled with the show’s vibe within an outdoor setting.
You get the feeling in talking with Tackett that things like peace and love are more than quaint retro reminiscences. They’re values she’s thrilled to convey with every performance of Hair.
“I have a real personal identification with Sheila,” shares Tackett. “She’s a student, a real part of the tribe and very politically minded.”
Tackett describes Sheila as ambitious, sharing the beliefs of fellow tribe members but refusing to stop there. “She acts on everything she believes.”
Sheila goes to Washington, D.C. to “try and levitate the Pentagon” and does all she can to engage others in the tribe who are content to champion ideas without acting upon them.
“I can still hear my mother’s voice,” muses Sheila. “Don’t let being a woman hold you back.”
We sometimes forget how little time has passed since gender and race were used with alarming regularity to devalue fellow citizens.
Hair serves as a powerful testament to the challenges of generations present and past – and inspires those who experience it to dream, and to do.
We spoke as Tackett was in Washington, D.C. with the Hair tour– and with her family, which includes three-year-old daughter Ravyn Sioux (a name meant to honor Native American roots on both sides of the family).
Apparently the tiny Tackett is already rocking the activism vibe during gleeful trips to see the Lincoln Memorial and other national treasures. “She loves to recite the stories and facts,” muses Tackett.
Seems Tackett was exposed to music early and often, describing her father’s family as “a bunch of jazz and blues musicians in the New England area.”
“My dad’s side is multi-racial,” says Tackett–recalling his role in establishing a “black and white orchestra” during the 1910s. “It was a big deal back then,” reflects Tackett.
But Hair isn’t her only full circle experience. Seems Tuckett and Matt DeAngelis (Woof), both performing in the current national tour of Hair, have shared the stage before — during a student production of Godspell at Boston’s Masconomet Regional High School. They even attended the same elementary school.
“I always knew I would do theater,” says Tackett. Seems her high school acting peers were a close, supportive bunch. “It was such a beautiful experience.” She went on to major in musical theatre at Emerson College — but left to take an acting gig.
Tackett is glad she realized early on that acting was a viable career choice, and that her parents were supportive of her decision. “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t have a career in musical theater and that it can’t last,” insists Tackett.
“It’s never impossible.”
Note: HAIR is being performed at ASU Gammage in Tempe Dec 7-12. Visit the ASU Gammage website for show and ticket information, plus the scoop on special events and promotions for this and future shows. While the show does include brief nudity, Tackett notes that it’s done in a very tasteful way, and hopes this won’t discourage anyone from attending.
Coming up: “Evening of Arts” at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, Valley visual arts news, Art festivals featuring family fun