Tessa Permar stood below the stage at the Performing Arts Center, with the cast of Hair above her. Opening night was just a little more than a week away and the director had work to do.

"Let the sun shine. Let the sun shine in." — Jeanna Shepard

“Okay, team, this is looking a little too High School Musical,” she said. “Remember, you are about to stage a serious protest!”

The cast, made up of college and high school kids, giggled for a moment and then refocused as they got back into character, transporting themselves to a different era, one of protests and war and a new consciousness.

Safiya Harris led the way, belting out “This is the dawning of the Age of Aquariusssss,” and the 1960s came alive again.

Hair opened on Broadway in 1968, highlighting the youth counterculture of the time. The play was controversial as the characters protested the war in Vietnam, mocked the American flag and LBJ. It was also a huge hit. The teen “tribe” lived on the streets, slept in New York city’s parks, and spent their days in foggy highs — dancing, singing and doing every drug their conservative parents hated. It struck a chord with nearly everyone.

Cam Cote won't cut his hair. — Jeanne Shepard

Last summer, a group of students at MVRHS decided to do a summer musical. The result was Spring Awakening. Sam Permar, a senior at the time, acted in the play, his mother, Jane Dreeben, took on the role of producer, Tessa Permar was the choreographer and Michele Ortlip-Sommers was the director. The show was a success and so they decided to do another one this summer.

The group chose Hair for this year because they felt many of the issues from back then — justice versus discrimination, war versus peace, equality, minorities versus majorities and the feeling of disillusionment among youth — remain strong today, and because social media delivers these messages and opinions from all sides of the spectrum constantly.

“We wanted to foster dialogue between generations,” Ms. Permar explained.

Tessa Permar graduated from Vassar College this year and always loved the performing arts. She attended MVRHS and danced her way through high school. She continued to pursue the theatre in college through dancing, acting and directing.

Two of her cast members currently attend NYU, three are at Carnegie Mellon University, and the rest are in high school. But all are incredibly talented.

The group chose to perform Hair to foster dialogue between generations. — Jeanna Shepard

“About two-thirds are Islanders, one-third not,” said the play’s producer Jane Dreeben. “The college kids have tons of experience, but the Island kids totally keep up.”

Musical direction is by Eric Johnson and George Luton, and choreography is by Sandy Stone.

The group started practicing all together in July, and have worked everyday except Fridays ever since — despite holding down day jobs. The kids have been consistently enthusiastic, Ms. Dreeben said, and they are completely committed. The show is a benefit for Vineyard House, a sober living facility on the Island. The group felt supporting Vineyard House was fitting in part because of how the play deals with substance abuse. The show does not advocate for the use of drugs, Ms. Dreeben said. “We are showing what actually happens.”

Through their performances, the cast and crew hope to not only entertain their audiences, but also educate them on the recurring issues, both individually and societally, that every new generation of teenagers face.

Hair will be performed at the Performing Arts Center at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School on August 6, 7, 8 and 9, all shows beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.