MINNEAPOLIS — The artists at Theater 55 believe that, in its way, their staging of “Hair” is just as subversive as the original production that thrilled and shocked audiences a half-century ago.

It’s not that the anti-establishment rock musical is newly resonant in a deeply polarized country. Or that this rendition adds an improvised divertimento about border walls midway through the first act. It’s the casting: Claude, the restive leader of a tribe of free-love hippies, is 53. The irreverent Berger is 59. Woof, who sings the praises of all things carnal, is 71.

This joyful staging is the first by Theater 55, a new Twin Cities company that celebrates elders as artists. And it requires more than an average suspension of disbelief. The 26-member cast singing about the Age of Aquarius is distinct for its abundance of unapologetic wrinkles, dad bods and artificial joints. When the men wax ecstatic about their “shining, gleaming, streaming” locks, it’s hard not to notice the receding hairlines and hair that’s more salt-and-pepper than flaxen and waxen.

And that, they might tell you, is the point.

“We’re not trying to pretend that we’re twentysomethings,” said Brent Berheim, who works for a Minneapolis financial services company by day but will complete the last of 11 performances this weekend as Claude. “Yes, the show is about youth, but it’s also about an environment and a time. We’re trying to see if the audience is willing to let go of superficialities.”

Bicycling past the Minnesota History Center one day and noticing a banner promoting “The 1968 Exhibit” cemented both the idea for the theater and its inaugural production. Tams-Witmark, which licenses the show, had no problems with the nontraditional approach. So the 53-year-old director and his collaborators scraped together a modest $46,000 budget, rented a theater and crossed their fingers.

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Like his youthful performers, the “Hair” cast has varying levels of stage experience. Some have plied the community theater circuit for years or have music or dance credits. Some had never before been onstage; one wasn’t certain how an audition worked.

“Whether they’re youth or older,” Mr. Hitchler observed, “there’s still the same insecurities, the same questions and the same sense that if you open your mind and your being to new adventure, you’re going to learn something. And we’re never done learning.”

One thing the company has learned since rehearsals started the Monday after Thanksgiving is that the show still has the ability to touch a nerve. Mr. Berheim tells of some cast members choking up rehearsing a scene in which his character agonizes over burning his draft card. Angela Walberg’s father, who served in Vietnam, can’t bring himself to watch his daughter perform the lead female role of Sheila, which would remind him of returning home after the war and being called a “baby-killer.”