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Sun Apr 29, 2018, 11:39 AM

'Hair' 50 Years Later: Readers Tell Us When They Let the Sunshine In.

'All sorts of factors go into picking a Broadway show’s opening night, but April 29, 1968, is very likely the only one to have been selected by the producer’s astrologer.

It was 50 years ago this week that all signs pointed to a propitious debut for the era-defining “Hair” at the Biltmore Theater. The “American Tribal Love-Rock Musical,” as it was known, quickly became an inescapable part of American culture. Audiences would flock to the Biltmore — and, in a tradition that continues to this day, storm the stage and dance with the cast during the curtain call — for an alternately ebullient and harrowing primer in hippiedom.

Everyone — the 5th Dimension, Three Dog Night and “Sesame Street,” to name a few — covered songs like “Aquarius” and “Good Morning Starshine.” The Broadway cast recording spent 13 weeks on top of the Billboard charts, and Ebony magazine called it “the biggest outlet for black actors in the history of the American theater.” (A brief, dimly lit nude scene at the end of Act 1 didn’t hurt its popularity, either.)

But not everyone was won over by its raw language and irreverent treatment of the American flag. Leonard Bernstein walked out of the production, as did two of the three Apollo 13 astronauts. When touring companies of the anti-Vietnam War show headed into the heartland, the actors brought an eight-page pamphlet advising “what to do if you are detained, harassed or arrested by the police.” Two separate United States Supreme Court cases dealt with attempts to shut down productions.

James Rado and Gerome Ragni could hardly have expected this response in late 1964 when they started writing material on their Hoboken landlord’s typewriter. At the time, hippies didn’t even exist — at least not by that name: The word “hippie” first surfaced in a San Francisco newspaper article a few months later. But their creation, augmented enormously by the addition of the composer Galt MacDermot, did as much as anything to define the subculture for mainstream America.'>>>

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/29/theater/hair-50-years-later-readers-tell-us-when-they-let-the-sunshine-in.html?

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Reply 'Hair' 50 Years Later: Readers Tell Us When They Let the Sunshine In. (Original post)
elleng Apr 2018 OP
The Velveteen Ocelot Apr 2018 #1
SCantiGOP Apr 2018 #2
murielm99 Apr 2018 #3
elleng Apr 2018 #4

Response to elleng (Original post)

Sun Apr 29, 2018, 11:59 AM

1. I saw it on Broadway in 1969. Great show!

I usually don't even like musicals, but this one was different; the music was actually good. And yes, they did get naked, which was a bit startling for the time.

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Sun Apr 29, 2018, 12:10 PM

2. I had to wait a few years

We have a really good local theater group that puts on cutting edge performances, unlike the usual "Brigadoon" fare of the normal theaters.
About 20 years ago they put on a performance of Hair. At one point during a song, two of the females on stage, who are obviously not wearing anything under their T shirts, step to the front of the stage and start to pull up their shirts.
"Is this the part of the play where we all get naked?" said one.
"Are you kidding me, we are in Columbia, SC," the other replied.
With that, they both looked very disappointed, as did the audience, and the song proceeded with everyone clothed.

More surprising to me than the nudity however, is the completely routine inclusion in the cast of a minor character who is a young gay man, or homosexual as would have been the term then. Even among the hippies and liberal elements that loved the show's content and philosophy, being gay was still not considered mainstream.

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Sun Apr 29, 2018, 04:30 PM

3. I saw "Hair" in Chicago,

during the first week it ran there. We were all sure that Mayor Daley would shut it down.

I have the CD of the original cast songs. I listen to it every once in awhile. My youngest daughter, in her thirties, still finds it amusing. She thinks some it is still timely as well. She thinks the same thing about my Phil Ochs CDs.

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Response to murielm99 (Reply #3)

Sun Apr 29, 2018, 04:35 PM

4. I saw it in Chicago too, murielm!

I had the vinyl album, but it's long gone.

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