Adi Wimmer: The Musical Hair

Adi Wimmer: The Musical Hair. (Published in: Helbig, Jörg and Simon Warner, eds., 2008. Summer of Love. The Beatles, Art and Culture in the Sixties. W...
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Adi Wimmer: The Musical Hair. (Published in: Helbig, Jörg and Simon Warner, eds., 2008. Summer of Love. The Beatles, Art and Culture in the Sixties. WVT, 205-16)

In the late 60s and early 70s, the musical Hair influenced the generation of 1730 year olds like no other musical did, before or after. Hair was more than just another musical in a city that is renown for its Broadway musicals. It held out the promise of a new era, an era characterized by peace, love and harmony. Hopes for such a new era were great in 1967 as we have heard in previous papers, and they are invested in a song that has, 40 years after, a recognition value as great as the song “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band.” Whenever you see a TV documentary on the 60s, or the hippies, or the anti-war movement, you are likely to hear the song “Aquarius”. (Even when one accesses the musical’s official website (www.hairthemusical/com) the first thing one hears is this song.) 1. From the theatrical fringe to Broadway. Hair and its social context. Hair was launched on Sept. 17, 1967. Its authors James Rado and Jerome Ragni had worked on it for roughly two years, and then they found the congenial former South African composer Galt McDermot, who “was trying to communicate the elements of freedom” in his songs (Horn 28). Their Grand Narrative was an exploration of the new “hippie” Zeitgeist. Hippiedom had made a profound impact on American culture in the previous two years; the term was first used by Michael Fallon in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sept 5th, 1965. Following the publication of this first essay on the hippie Zeitgeist, teams of researchers went into the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, and the 1

East Village in New York to describe what was understood to be the second generation of Beats. Rado and Ragni too did field work amongst hippies, later using it as raw material for the musical. A consensus emerged that hippiedom was a counterculture made up by the children of the affluent middle class that lived in rejection of their parents’ values. Its members were first of all characterized by a general anti-establishment attitude and visually, by their long hair. The middle passage of the song “Hair” has the following lyrics: Long, beautiful, gleaming, steaming, flaxen, waxen, curly, fuzzy, snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty, oily, greasy, fleecy, down-to-there hair, hair like Jesus wore it, hallelujah, I adore it, why don’t my mother like my haaaaaair...”.

Hippies embraced all people of colour and were generally anti-racist. Most of them also displayed a liberal sexual behaviour, a drop-out attitude and quite generally smoked marijuana. Barbara Lee Horn, an authority on Hair reports that smoking of dope was a general practice fore the whole length of the Broadway run, which made productions wildly unpredictable (92). Many times, certain cast members were too stoned to appear on stage, and absenteeism was a general problem. Additional concerns included

the environment, poverty,

religion and a dislike of the military. The main theme however is the protest against the war in Vietnam, with anti-racism coming a close second. At one stage Hud, the black tribe member, asks: “why do white men send black men away to kill yellow men to defend a country which they stole from the red men?” In this query we find the anti-war issue intertwined with the Civil rights movement. So much for the social context. The artistic context requires some comment, too. Theatre in the 1960s was vibrant, on either side of the Atlantic. Experiments were the order of the day. In New York, an entirely new theatrical scene developed in the early 1960s that was located “off Broadway”, in Soho, Greenwich Village and the Bowery, with enterprises such as the legendary “La Mama” theatre, the “Living Theatre” and the “La MaMa Experimental Theatre 2

Company.” In Europe meanwhile, Samuel Beckett had popularized his “Theatre of the Absurd”, Grotowsky had called for a “poor theatre”, Antonin Artaud advocated a “Theatre of Cruelty”, by which was meant a theatre assaulting all senses rather than a timid, cerebral affair. Some of these ideas had already filtered into the American Musical. For 50 years, from Oklahoma in the 1920 to West Side Story (1961) musicals had followed a well-developed script. Critics however were saying this genre had exhausted itself. The alternative should be a musical whose forte was not strong plotting, but a “concept” developed in workshops by the cast as well as writers, composers and choreographers. Such a “concept musical” was launched off Broadway in September 1966 and its title was Viet Rock. This prototype owed much to Joe Papp, the creator of the New York “Public Theatre” (1965) and the annual “Shakespeare in the Park” festival, which is still an important feature of New York’s theatrical summer culture. So when the two authors James Rado and Jerome Ragni were rejected by Broadway, one producer after the other, and then miraculously accepted by Joe Papp for a limited 8 week run at his Public Theatre, a deal was quickly struck. Joe Papp’s influence can be felt in one song which borrows its words verbatim from Hamlet Act II/2, l. 261-274. Its title is “What a piece of work is man”. According to Horn, Joe Papp did not show sufficient interest to sell his production to any of the Broadway companies, and so it seemed as if the Musical was finished. But then, a second miracle occurred. One of the last shows at the Public Theatre was seen by Michael Butler, youthful scion of the exceedingly wealthy Butler dynasty of Chicago. Butler had worked with both JFK and RFK, and had (unsuccessfully) run for Congress in 1966. Butler’s pet concern was the continued mistreatment of Native Americans, and he had become aware of the production at the Public only because the original poster featured a famous photograph of Sitting Bull, Geronimo and other chieftains. Butler then secured the rights for a Broadway performance, which he himself 3

produced. Rado and Ragni, who had had endless quarrels with Joe Papp (Horn, 15), called him a “dream producer”. He gave them all the freedom they wanted, and it was his idea to introduce the term “the tribe” for the show’s cast. He also encouraged the cast to share their accommodation, their property, their food and their clothes – which was to have a disastrous consequence later for one of the spin-off productions in Cleveland (more in a moment). As artistic director he hired Bertrand Castelli, a writer-producer with a first class reputation who had worked with Jean Cocteau, Picasso and Raoul Dufy, to name but three. At the time Castelli was the director of a ballet company and he was able to bring in a number of experimentalists, including Andy Warhol (if you please) and Tom O’Horgan to “inject vitality into the precious, static, obsolete world of ballet” (Horn 37). In the winter of 1967/68 the “tribe” staged the show as it had been prepared for the premiere at the run-down “Cheetah” discotheque on 45th Street, while at the same time rehearsing for the opening at the Biltmore Theatre on Broadway, which then happened on 29 April 1968. 2. Broadway and the public’s changed views on the Vietnam War The World Premiere at the Public Theatre of Sept. 1967 did not take New York by storm. This had more to do with the timing of the show than its inherent quality. In 1967, the country was still behind the Johnson government regarding the war in Vietnam, and the hippie counterculture so lovingly portrayed in Hair was viewed with suspicion. But on 29 April 1968 came the Broadway launch in the ‘Biltmore’ theatre, where it stayed for 1,750 performances. Only seven months had passed since the world premiere at Joe Papp’s venue, but these were months of great political change. On January 31st 70.000 Vietcong unleashed their “TET” Offensive (Karnow 523) during which American TV viewers were 4

stunned to find that an enemy that had been described as practically defeated by their government, was able to launch an offensive throughout South Vietnam. Even the US embassy in Saigon fell into the enemy’s hands for a day. Johnson’s optimistic assessment that he had the VC “on the run” was exposed as a lie. Walter Cronkite, who at the time was generally regarded “the nation’s most reliable journalistic personality” (Karnow, 547) was representative for America’s mood swing when he went before the cameras on February 27th 1968, declaring that it seemed “more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in stalemate.” (qut. by Karnow, ibid) On March 10, the New York Times revealed a hitherto secret plan to send an additional 206.000 troops to Vietnam, at the request of General Westmoreland. The public response was one of outrage, and Johnson was forced to scrap the plan. And on April 2 the first Democratic “primary” since TET was held in Wisconsin, in which the hitherto largely unknown peace candidate Eugene McCarthy received only 300 votes less than the incumbent president Lyndon Baines Johnson. Thus the antiwar message of Hair found a highly receptive audience. 3. Hair spreads across the nation and to Europe There were other success factors. Its refreshingly outspoken references to sex, dope and nudity turned show into instant commercial success. The reviewers were at first divided between the traditionalists (who hated the formlessness of Hair and its anti-establishment messages) and the more progressive critics. Clive Barnes, the New York Times critic wrote in his review (April 29, 1968): Hair is now a musical with a theme, not a story. Nor is this all that has been done in this totally new, all lit-up, gas-fired, speed-marketed Broadway version. For one thing it has been made a great deal franker. In fact it has been made into the frankest show in town - and this has been a season not noticeable for its verbal or visual reticence.”

Later he goes on to say that many four letter words are used, for instance “love”. Walter Winchell, theatre critic of the NY Daily news (a tabloid!) wrote: 5

This veteran of the Broadway scene since 1920 has seen almost everything on and off a stage, but he has never witnessed anything like "Hair" which came to the Biltmore asylum last night. It is the most exciting entertainment in town. Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, LeRoi Jones and other masters of four-letter-word literature are made to appear old-hat, dated and obsolete by the graffiti in "Hair." It may force the abovenamed greats out of show business. It is authentic Hippieville with a large cast of young people, many of whom are talented, attractive and naked.

Negative reviews there were, too. David Merrick, a traditionalist show producer, said: “I don’t know what the hell this is. I don’t know why people like it”. Or take John Chapman (Daily News): “… vulgar, perverted, tasteless, cheap, cynical, offensive, and generally lousy, and everybody connected with it should be washed in strong soap and hung up to dry in the sun.” (Both qut. by Horn, 86). Note the strident tone typical for a hatred towards the counterculture. One more, by Jack O’Brien: “a mad-mod musical … whose cast look permanently bathless, whose points are not irreverent but sacrilegious, its hymns of love are evilly hateful” (qut. Horn, 88). Some of the negativity was not caused by prudery or patriotism, but by a resentment that such art- and formlessness as is manifested in Hair should be rewarded. This resentment has never completely faded away. Some historians of the American musical have been curiously curt and tightlipped about Hair. Ian Bradley (2004, 105) devotes exactly 7 lines (in a monograph of 245 pages) to the musical, condemning it as “one long dream sequence from beginning to end – the dream in this case being more druginduced hallucination and fantasy than a vision of a better world.” While Scott Miller’s monograph (1996) manages not to mention Hair at all. He ignores it completely. Although there were quite a number of NY critics who lambasted the show’s formlessness, or the anti-establishment stance, or its positive stance on mindenhancing drugs, these grouches were swept aside by a chorus of critical voices that praised Hair as exciting, youthful, new, and vibrant. Leonard Probst (1968) of the NBC praised it as the “only new concept in musicals on Broadway and more fun than any other this season.” Cecil Smith of the LA Times (1968) is 6

noticeably traditionalist in his sympathetic assessment: “But the most moving lyric in the show, and perhaps the most beautiful song, is ‘What a Piece of Work Is Man?’ for a play called ‘Hamlet’ by a man named Shakespeare.” After the first two weeks, the show was booked out for months ahead. The critics wrote that with Hair, a new age, the Age of Aquarius, had dawned. This was to be an age of peace and harmony, of communal love, an age that would abolish war and racial discrimination, aggression and crime. The values of competitive individualism would be replaced by the values of joyful sharing and collectivism: hence the importance of the term “tribe” instead if “cast”. This message is very well transported in the well-known song “Aquarius”, which we heard at the beginning of this presentation. Note that at the start of the number a morning is musically evoked, with the members of the tribe gradually awakening and forming a chorus that begins to chant the key words of the new Age.

4. What is Hair about? The plot is threadbare and less important than the messages of the individual songs combined. We follow a group of politically active Hippies of the “Age of Aquarius" who fight against conscription to the Vietnam War while living a bohemian life together in a New York loft. Claude is the nominal group leader; Berger an irreverent free spirit; Sheila is a New York University film student in love with both of them; Woof a bi-sexual gentle soul; Jeanie is in love with Claude but pregnant by another man; Hud is a Black Panther; Crissy, Dionne and others struggle to balance their young lives and loves with their Vietnam war resistance and the conservative ideology of their society. When the men of the tribe receive a draft notice, they conduct a draft-burning ceremony, except for Claude, whose sense of responsibility restrains him. 7

Ultimately, he is inducted to the army and sent to Vietnam. Claude's repeated failure to burn his draft card can be interpreted as a Hamlet syndrome. His loyalty to his country and his inability to take decisive action causes his death in Southeast Asia. In the last scene he appears as a ghostly apparition wearing a US uniform. The film version by Milos Forman has a more complex plot in which Berger is the tribal leader while Claude has arrived from rural Oklahoma to present himself before a Vietnam draft board. After some irreverent tribal antics (which includes gate-crashing a party of the NYC Upper Crust) the tribe follow Claude to Nevada, where he undergoes basic training. Berger then poses as Claude (exchanging clothes, even sacrificing his hair) so that Claude can have a final meeting with his sweetheart Sheila. Moments after Berger has snuck into the barracks (where he only plans to spend one night), to his horror a senior officer arrives who orders the whole unit to march into an aircraft that takes them to the Nam. In the final scene we see a gravestone amidst thousands of other gravestones with his name on it and the word “Vietnam”.

5. Nudity and opposition to the show. The original New York tribe included both James Rado and Gerome Ragni, as well as Diane Keaton. The show’s greatest notoriety was a scene at the end of Act 1 in which the whole cast appear nude on the stage, symbolically signifying that the tribe have nothing to hide. Diane Keaton however included a clause in the contract that allowed her not to appear nude in that finale. She left the “tribe” after only a few months when Woody Allan offered her a major role in his movie Manhattan. But that nude scene caused a lot of problems to the musical’s producer and authors. Not so in New York, where Butler had made discreet inquiries about how the NYPD would react to the nudity, finding that it would be quietly 8

tolerated. But only 300 miles further north, there was trouble in a city that is otherwise well known for its liberality and tolerance: Boston. Hair has made legal history. In March 1969, the show in Boston was stopped after only one performance because a local district attorney thought it violated the laws pertaining to obscenity. Seven judges had attended it; after the viewing their verdict was to ban it in toto. The judges suggested that the actors put on some discreet underwear for the end of Act One, and that the American flag during the song “don’t put it down” should not touch the ground. (Certain members of the military had complained that the Star Spangled banner was being desecrated during the show.) Producer Michael Butler however stood firm: he continued to pay the Boston cast for a whole month while the matter was taken to the Supreme Court. The verdict was that the show should proceed as it had in New York, as the Boston ban violated the First Amendment (“a ban would have a chilling effect on the freedom of artistic expression” was its key sentence.) A different legal battle was fought in Chattanooga, Tennessee. There the authorities did not grant the show even a preview, banning it on the grounds of what had been reported about it. When Butler wanted to take this decision to the Supreme Court as well, the state of Tennessee found a number of legal tricks to prevent it. It was only five years later, in 1975, that the Supreme Court once again ruled that not to give a musical play a venue constituted “unlawful prior restraint” and was thus in violation of the Constitution. But by that time, the show had run out of steam and so there never was a Chattanooga performance. In a TV documentary on Hair (Rapaport 2007) Michael Butler explains that opposition to him and to members of the tribe was no joke. He received a number of death threats over the phone, which, so he claims, the FBI traced 9

back to the reactionary John Birch society, without taking legal action against them. Real tragedy struck in 1970 in Cleveland. The hotel where virtually all the cast and their families were staying (following Michael Butler’s advice that for reasons of public relations the “tribe” should keep close social contacts during the shows) was torched. The police concluded that the fire’s cause was arson. Four people died in the blaze, including the wife and little daughter of one of the actors. No-one was ever prosecuted for this deadly attack.

6. How did the musical affect the US and Europe? Hair did not have as many runs as previous musicals such as Oklahoma, Showboat, or West Side Story, and it was eclipsed by subsequent musicals like The Phantom of the Opera, which still holds the record on Broadway. However, it was without any doubt a milestone in the history of the Broadway musical, as it was a milestone regarding art and society in Europe. It was the first rock musical on Broadway and thus a trend-setter. It brought the hippie culture to the attention of mainstream America. Owing to Hair, hippie culture left the domain of the United States and went global. As a musical, Hair spread faster and further than any other musical before or since. A West Coast production was launched on Dec 4th 1968 in Los Angeles to rave reviews. One of the reviewers noted that during a scene depicting an antiwar demonstration, one of the actors waved a placard that ingeniously said “Nixon is Rosemary’s baby” (qut. Chamberlain). Within one year, there were 14 productions across the USA and one in London, at the venerable Shaftesbury Theatre. After one year of generally sold-out performances, the Broadway tribe held a free open air performance in Central Park, to an audience of 10.000. By then, the show had netted a profit of 2 million dollars. Within two years, there were productions in London, Paris, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Munich, 10

Rome, Stockholm, Bergen, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Tel Aviv, Tokyo and Sydney. Like the Beatles, Hair had become a global phenomenon, Many more productions followed in the early 1970s. The movie Hair, directed by Milos Forman, was launched in 1979 but did not have the approval of the original authors who felt that it was too neat and mainstream to do justice to the original show’s irreverence. In 1988, for the 10-year anniversary, there was a reunion of the original Broadway tribe and a one-night gala performance in the Grand Assembly Hall of the United Nations. The patrons of the show were the current UN General Secretary Perez de Cuellar, Nancy Reagan, and Barbara Walters, who introduced it to the audience. Ticket prices ranged from 500 to 5000 dollars, and the proceeds went towards the US AIDS foundation. The legendary Dr Ruth Westheimer, who had pioneered sex counselling on American TV, gave a brief appearance as the lady from the audience asking why the tribe wear their hair so long, which leads into the song “My Conviction”. As a result of the UN revival, the 1990s saw a spate of revivals, not only in the USA but across the globe. In 1991, there were 13 separate recordings, in 2007, there are 36 albums, including an Austrian, an Israeli and an Icelandic album. Together they have sold millions of copies. Forbes magazine reported that no fewer than four million people saw the show within the first two year, and that it earned a total of 22 million dollars during that time. When it completed its American run in the mid-1970s, it had earned 80 million (Horn, xiv). The amount earned from overseas productions probably exceeded those 80 million dollars, and the show as well as the recordings continue to make millions of dollars with each additional year. Currently there are 19 revivals in the USA, and in at least another 9 countries worldwide: Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, Australia, Austria, South Africa, the UK, Argentina and Germany. There may be more of which we do not know. An Austrian production premiered on July 20th 2007 at Amstetten. It follows a radically revised 2001 revival in Vienna which 11

was highly successful at the time, running for more than two years. In 2005, a London revival at the Gate Theatre repositioned the musical into the context of George Bush’s oil war against Iraq, with the express approval of the authors and Michael Butler. I have personal memories of how the arrival of Hair was reported in the Austrian media. Unlike in the USA, there were hardly any negative voices: the nudity was mentioned but there was no shrill criticism of it, the protest against the war in Vietnam was already out in the popular press and so did not raise any objections, the popularisation of values such as peace and racial harmony was praised. About the Shaftesbury Theatre premiere in London it was widely reported that the show was booked out a year ahead, which turned out to be not true when I went to buy a ticket in July of 1969. The London production initially had overwhelmingly negative reviews. The only dissenter wasthe London Times’ theatre critic. He wrote: "Nothing else remotely like it has yet struck the West End. Its honesty and passion give it the quality of a true theatrical celebration - the joyous sound of a group of people telling the world exactly what they feel" (Wardle 1968). Like before in NYC, this view was to prevail over the next weeks and months. As it conquered Europe, Hair created its own local headlines. In London for instance, where the office of the official censor was abolished just before the show opened, the authorities did not create any fuss about the nudity, but some of the cast refused to strip to their birthday suits. (Ironically, one year later a West-Comedy with the title of No Sex Please We’re British was premiered. It ran for 5 years.) The reason given by the prudish members of the cast was that the nudity detracted from the play’s central message, which was the criminality of the war in Vietnam. Incidentally, the London show ran for 1,997 nights, longer than the Broadway show, and when it came to a halt in 1974 it was only 12

because the theatre had a leaking roof which needed structural repairs. In Paris the nudity was fervently embraced, with the actors actually insisting that the lights should not be dimmed while they presented themselves naked. In Bergen, a group of “concerned citizens” unsuccessfully tried to stop the premiere by blocking the theatre’s access. In Copenhagen, which was at the time considered to be the sex capital of Europe, the actors thought the nudity was the central message of the play, and that Broadway had been far too modest. So they marched onto the stage through the central aisles already in the raw and later refused to stand still during the notorious nude scene, as was required by the original script. Instead, the “Be-In” scene as it came to be known was one of joyful and communal nude dancing. Soon after the show opened, members of the audience (should I re-phrase that?) stripped as well and climbed onto the stage to complete this life-affirming ritual, The scene was thus extended to 10 minutes as opposed to only 2 minutes on Broadway. The Belgrade show (July 1979) was attended by Jozip Broz Tito, who warmly applauded the cast – one reason perhaps being that this local production included barbs against Mao Zhe Dong, as well as the state of Albania. This warm welcome did not apply to a Mexican production at Acapulco launched in 1969. The whole cast were arrested at 7 a.m. after the opening night and hauled off to jail. There, they were given a stark choice: either leave the country immediately or face criminal charges. The cast thought it wiser to turn heel. The wildest episode concerns the Munich production. First of all, when James Rado and Jerome Ragni arrived and checked into the hotel “Amba”, Harald Süßmeier the proprietor refused to give them rooms on account of their long hair. As his reason he gave that he disliked Gypsies and that the two men were “unappetitliche Kerle” (König 1968). A few days before the opening show, the police approached the German producer, threatening to arrest the actors if they appeared nude on the stage. To which the producer replied that his grandfather had been marched nude to the gas chambers at Auschwitz, and the police had better concern themselves with that 13

sort of nudity scandal. This exchange was of course reported in the press and everyone was tense as to what would happen during the opening night. Well, the actors did appear nude: but they concealed the strategic parts of their bodies behind a huge banner which they pulled from one end of the stage to the other. On it were displayed the names of all the Nazi death camps, including Dachau, almost a suburb of Munich. The authorities were duly shamed and there was no further interference with the production again. A small footnote: while Vienna did not have a production at the time, the well-known journalist Günther Nenning took a cue from the show. Nenning created a weekly journal in the fall of 1972 called Die Neue Freie Presse. (It only lasted for two years.) In the first issue, editor DDr. Nenning and all his journalists posed nude for a group photo, explaining in an editorial that the naked group photo was symbolic for an avowed attention not to hide anything from the journal’s readers. One thing that all non-American productions had in common, and to which Michael Butler later took some objection, was that their general tone was far more critical of America. The original production did not have that intention, he complained. Another commonality: the songs and dialogues were always translated into the local language. As Michael Butler explained, not to have the local language was tantamount to cultural imperialism. 7. Legacies Despite its poor ranking in the list of longest runs (see appendix), Hair is often described as “far and away the most important musical offering .. of the era.” (Bordman 658.) No other musical in the history of Broadway and London’s West End has had such a profound impact on the local Zeitgeist as Hair. In his opening paper, Werner Faulstich has just demanded of us that we live (“appropriate” was his term) the values of 1967 rather than just cynically 14

jumping on a bandwagon. Well, many young Americans did live those values in their protest against racism, against the war in Vietnam, against male chauvinism. Some of them paid with their lives. I do not want to miss an opportunity such as this one to remind you that on 4 May 1970, four students were shot dead on the campus of Kent State University in Ohio for no other reason than they disagreed with the war policies of Richard Nixon. Their names, so that they may never be forgotten, were ALISON KRAUSE, JEFFREY MILLER, SANDRA SCHEUER, WILLIAM SCHROEDER. Their killers were never made accountable for their crime, and Richard Nixon refused to express his sorrow over the killings.. Once the war was over and consigned to an Orwellian memory hole, the Zeitgeist changed. Vietnam hung like a shadow over the United States and people were loath to talk about it. The subsequent Jimmy Carter years were full of embarrassments, and then came the conservative backlash under Ronald Reagan. The young did not aspire to being hippies any more, they wanted to be Yuppies. This was the “Me decade”, the decade of extreme individualism and getting ahead at all cost. However, soon there was a backlash against the backlash, and a significant event was the revival of Hair at the general assembly of the UNO in 1988. The pendulum swung back, and now Yuppiedom was viewed with scorn and suspicion. Suddenly the values of “the tribe” were foregrounded again, as is witnessed by the rise of Charity organisations like Sir Bob Geldolf’s in the 1990s. Hair became a central component of a 1960s nostalgia, reminding us that once there had been a vision of a better society based on tolerance, peace and communal values. The Gulf War of 1990 further alienated liberal America, stiffening the resolve of former counterculture members to resist. No surprise then that from about 1990 we have a seemingly endless stream of Hair revivals.


The most infectious song is its last one, which has the curious double title of “The Flesh’s failures/Let the sunshine in.” The song should really be a song of mourning for the death of Claude in Vietnam, but then turns into a joyful celebration of the “life goes on” idea. If life goes on, so does the cultural influence of Hair. It has featured in several episodes of The Simpsons, in two episodes of Sesame Street ; the songs Aquarius and Let the Sunshine in are frequently used numbers for documentaries on the 1960s or the anti-Vietnam movement. There has also been the usual commodification of some key songs: “Aquarius” has recently been used in a Ford commercial, “let the Sun shine in” features in a commercial for BIC razors, and “Hair” the title song features in a Taiwanese commercial advertising a shampoo to combat dandruff (Horn 199200). Never mind these curmudgeonly remarks: Hair continues to captivate us not only by its musical score, but by its underlying values of brotherhood, peace and harmony. Works Cited: Barnes, Clive (1968): “Theater: "HAIR" – it’s fresh and frank. Likable Rock Musical Moves to Broadway“. The New York Times, April 29. Websource: www.hairthemusical/com/en00154media_element_article.htm

Chamberlain, Richard (1968): „Stars Turn out at the Opening of „Hair“, L.A. Times, 5 December. Gerald Bordman, Gerald (1992): Musical Theatre. Oxford: OUP, 2nd ed. Bradley, Ian (2004). You’ve Got to Have a Dream. The Message of the Musical. London: SCM Press. Horn, Barbara Lee (1991). The Age of Hair. Evolution and Impact of Broadway’s First Rock Musical. New York: Greenwood Press (Contributions in Drama and Theatre Studies 42). Karnow, Stanley (1983): Vietnam A History. The First Complete Account of Vietnam at War. New York: The Viking Press.


König, Jürgen (1968): “Wirt stören die Haare der “Haare”-Autoren. TZ München (Wochenende), 19./20. Oktober. Miller, Scott (1996). From ‘Assassins’ to ‘West Side Story’: The Director’s Guide to Musical Theatre. Portsmouth N.H.: Heinemann USA. -- (2007) Strike Up the Band. A New History Of Musical Theatre. Heinemann USA. Probst, Leon (1968) quoted in Rapaport, Pola, and Wolfgang Held: Let the Sun Shine In. TV Documentary (France) 2007. Screened on “arte TV” on 24 July 2007. Smith, Cecil (1968): “Controversial Musical “Hair” opens at Aquarius.” L.A. Times, Dec. 5 (websource: www.hairthemusical/com/enoo157media_element_article.html Wardle, Irving: “Hair in London.” The London Times, 27 Sept 1969.


Winchell, Walter: “Winchell Previews ‘Hair.’” The New York Daily News, April 30, 1968. Websource: www.hairthemusical/com/00153media_element_article.html.

Appendix: Hair, A Factsheet Work on Hair started in 1965, by James Rado and Gerome Ragni. Musical score: Galt MacDermot, Artistic Director: Bertrand Castelli The world premiere was at Joe Papp’s Public Theatre in New York City, on 17 September 1967. It ran for 6 weeks. Transfer to the “Cheetah” discotheque on 45th St., December 1967 (45 runs).

Broadway premiere at the Biltmore theatre on 29 April 1968. Show closed July 1, 1972 L.A. premiere: 4 Dec 1968. London: 27 Sept 1968, a total of 1,998 runs. Number of songs, original Broadway version. In 1967: 14. Start of the Broadway run: 20. As the show evolved, between 27 and 33. Countries where (usually translated) versions have been shown: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland. France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Turkey, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Venezuela, Yugoslavia. A song-only tour for US troops in Vietnam took place in 1971. Amateur productions have been and continue to be popular worldwide. 17

Number of Recordings: 36 (not counting instrumental versions, e.g. by James Last.)

In Austria: 2001 revival at the “Vereinigte Wiener Bühnen/Raimundtheater”, highly successful run to April 2004, followed by an Austria-wide tour. Revivals in Güssing (2006), Amstetten (2007), and at the Wiener Donauinselfest, June 2007. Earnings: by 1970, $ 22 mio. By 1990: $ 80 mio. Estimated total earnings, 2007: $ 200 mio Website for all HAIR Lyrics:

Number of performances, Broadway musicals: 1. Phantom of the Opera 2. Les Miserables 3. Cats 4. A Chorus Line 5 Miss Saigon 6. Grease 7. Fiddler on the Roof 8. Hello Dolly 9. My Fair Lady 10. Oklahoma 11. La Cage aux Folles 12. West Side Story 13. Hair

7486 6680 6138 6137 4092 3388 3242 2844 2727 2212 1776 1769 1775

(1987; London 1986) (1987; Paris 1980) (1982; London 1981) (1975) (1990, London 1989) (1972) (1964) (1964) (1955) (1943) (1983) (1961) (1967)