HAIR - Long Beautiful - HAIR


Photo by Elliot Margolies — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Whenever you get cynical, or a bit depressed, and question whether something that takes place on a stage can have an impact on audience for years to come: stop, and let the sunshine in.

This week marks the fortieth anniversary of HAIR: An American Tribal Love-Rock Musical.

Two young experimental theatre artists, James Rado and Gerome Ragni, wrote the play. Through a mutual friend, they were introduced to Galt MacDermot to make their vision complete. MacDermot wrote the music in about three weeks.

They couldn’t get a producer to bite, until they convinced a young ambitious producer, Joseph Papp, to take a chance on a new kind of musical, a new kind of politics, and a new kind of onstage celebration.

Public previews began on October 18, 1967 after a less than smooth rehearsal process. When it opened on October 29th at the Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival it wasn’t just the nudity that caught everyone’s attention — it was the passion, fun and truth.

Honesty in harmony.

When HAIR transferred to Broadway two years later, it was playing along side the musicals “Promises, Promises” (about a a man who finds love in commitment), George M! (about American show biz icon George M. Cohen and his patriotic songs), and 1776 (about the founding of America). Does that give you a sense of how different HAIR was? (HAIR was nominated for Broadway’s Tony Award for Best Musical. 1776 won.)

In the audience at the very first performance was a young Czech director, Milos Forman, who would years later, create a new version of HAIR that is as remarkable a film as the production is on stage.

So, let’s take a moment to mark a great anniversary and the “age of aquarius.”

Go get a tribe together, make a protest clear, break a few (theatrical) rules, tell our story, have fun — and definitely sing.

Honesty in harmony.

- Bill Reichblum

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4 Responses to “HAIR - Long Beautiful - HAIR”

  1. Elliot Margolies
    October 23rd, 2007 19:09

    It was one of my dad’s biggest mistakes - from his perspective - when he sent me those tickets for the new play, HAIR in 1968. I guess someone told him that it would make a great birthday gift for a teenager. At the time I was living at an orthodox Jewish seminary - age 15 - very cloistered from all that exploding counterculture. Wow, what an eye opener! In less than two years I’d be walking out of “the land of NO” and into “the land of YES” that the Chicago cast of Hair opened my head to.

    The photo I took that complements your blog entry, was taken at the Mountain Theatre two summers ago at their performance on top of Mt. Tamalpais in Marin, California.


  2. Bill
    October 25th, 2007 18:40

    That’s quite an introduction to Broadway, theatre, and the new culture of the day.
    Glad to remind you of a walk into your land of “yes”!

  3. Bill
    October 25th, 2007 18:41

    And thanks for the picture!

  4. KadmusArts - where culture speaks » Blog Archive » Saved from Censorship
    September 29th, 2008 05:03

    [...] Oh, the day after the Theatre Act passed, Hair opened in London. Let the Sunshine In, indeed. [...]

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