Hair (musical)

The original poster for the show.
The original poster for the show.

Hair, subtitled The American Tribal Love/Rock Musical, is a musical about hippies and was a significant part of the drug, music and peace-love culture of the 1960s. It is renowned for originally being performed with all the players totally naked in some scenes. It was written by James Rado and Gerome Ragni (lyrics), and Galt MacDermot (music). The original cast previewed a few performances at a go-go club called The Cheetah. It premiered off-Broadway, with much fanfare, as the inaugural perfomance of the Public Theater, on October 17, 1967, and moved to the Biltmore Theater on Broadway on April 29 1968 where it stayed for 1472 performances. It opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London on September 27 1968, continuing for 1998 performances until closure was forced by the roof collapsing in July 1973. It went on to stage productions across the world and continues to be performed today.

A movie version of Hair was directed by Milos Forman in 1979 with a cast including Treat Williams, Beverly D'Angelo and John Savage.


Political and cultural significance

The show challenged many of the norms held by western society at the time. It caused controversy when it was first staged, and much publicity was provoked by the Act I finale which included male and female nudity. This became a legal issue when the show left New York on tour. Stage nudity was acceptable in New York at that time but was unknown elsewhere in the US. The show was also charged with the desecration of the American flag and the use of obscene language. The case eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court. The show also effectively marked the end of stage censorship in the United Kingdom.

Story outline

The show follows 'The Tribe', a group of politically-active, long-haired 'Hippies of the Age of Aquarius' fighting against conscription to the Vietnam War. Among them are Claude and Berger — a pair of friends battling against Claude's draft notice, and Sheila, who is in love with both of them. Jeannie is always protesting about something, and together with Woof, Crissy, Hud and Dionne they epitomise the hippy days of the late Sixties.

The many songs include "Aquarius", "Good Morning Starshine", "Let the Sunshine In", "Hare Krishna", "Easy to be Hard", and the title song, "Hair".


See also


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