GOOD MORNING BROADWAY FANS! We are continuing to wake you up each day with our TOP 40 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN leading up to The 72nd Annual Tony Awards just 11 days away. Are you ready for more showtunes?
At # 11 on our countdown is another show about the Vietnam war. This story follows the life of a group of NYC free spirited bohemian hippies in the late 1960?s fighting for peace and love all against conscription into the Vietnam War. We of course are talking about the 1st major rock opera? Hair, The Musical. The show features a score and book by Galt MacDermot, Gerome Ragni, and James Rado.
From the 2009 telecast, Tony winner Gavin Creel as ?Claude?, Tony nominee Will Swenson as ?Berger?, and members of the cast of the recent Broadway revival perform the show?s title song.
HAIR was first conceived by co-writers Gerome Ragni, and James Rado. They were originally actors and performed together in a short lived Off Broadway play that flopped called HANG DOWN YOUR HEAD AND DIE. They started to write the show and creating characters based on their own personal lives and experiencing stories of residents of the East Village. Several stories they knew of people including young teenagers getting dropping out and getting kicked out of school because of their hair growing long. In addition to being inspired by those stories, Ragni and Rado had different backgrounds. Rado wanted to write the next major traditional musical (a la Rodgers and Hammerstein). Ragni was already active with a major Theater company called The Open Theatre that mainly produced Off-Off Broadway plays. While in the middle of writing HAIR, Ragni was performing in a production of a show called VIET ROCK by Megan Terry. The show told the story about 2 friends being thrown into the Vietnam War. Inspired by VIET ROCK, Rado and Ragni decided to expand the story of HAIR and updating it with the Anti-War theme. They continued to work on the show which caught the attention of producer Eric Blau which passed it onto Grammy winning Canadian composer Galt MacDermot
The show was then sent to numerous Broadway and Off Broadway producers who rejected it. Eventually it got the attention of Joe Papp (who ran the New York Shakespeare Festival) wanted the show to be performed in his newly built Theater in the East Village that was under construction at the time. It became the first non-Shakespeare production Papp was ever offered. With a full creative team together under the direction of Gerald Freedman and choreography by Anna Sokolow, HAIR began its rigorous casting and rehearsal process. During that time, the company and staff of the Public was confused by the plot and the storyline. Gerald Freeman couldn?t deal with the stress and almost dropped out of the production the last week of rehearsals.
HAIR had its official world premiere Off Broadway at The Public Theater in 1967. The original run was for 6 weeks. The original Off Broadway run reviews were decent by critics but audiences were loving it.
Following the run at the Public Theater, HAIR was then transferred to another Off Broadway space. This time is played a former NYC nightclub called The Cheetah for 2 months.
3 months later with new direction by Tom O’Horgan and an updated script, HAIR officially moved uptown to Broadway?s Biltmore Theatre (Currently the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre) playing a total of 1,750 performances.
The original Broadway cast consisted of?.
James Rado as ?Claude?,
Gerome Ragni as ?Berger?,
Steve Curry as ?Woof?,
Lynn Kellogg as ?Sheila?,
Melba Moore as ?Dionne?,
Shelley Plimpton as ?Crissy?,
Sally Eaton as ?Jeannie?,
The show had many numerous replacements throughout its original Broadway run.
Audiences were amazed for the production but however, the show did meet some controversy with the critics For those who may not know, HAIR is well known for due some of the crazy action that was happening on stage including characters taking illegal drugs on stage, sexual treatment, disrespecting the American flag, and a full onstage nude scene by the entire cast at the end of Act 1. However, the show continued to take off breaking new ground in musical theatre by defining the genre of ?rock musical?, using a fully diverse integrated cast, and inviting the audience onstage for a ?Be-In? finale.
The original production of HAIR was nominated for 2 Tony Awards in 1969 including Best Musical. It lost both of its categories.
Following the success of the original production HAIR went on to become a worldwide hit with productions in London?s West End and International companies translating the iconic score and book into every major language.
It was later revived in New York several times including several concert productions at production at New York City Center part of their ENCORES series (in 2001) and a benefit for The Actors Fund (in 2005).
The most recent revival of HAIR was in 2008 to commemorate the 40th Anniversary. Under the direction of Diane Paulus (a super fan of HAIR since she was 8 years old), the production started out as an outdoor production Delacorte Theatre in Central Park (part of The Public Theater?s Shakespeare in the Park Series where it all began for the show). The outdoor production did so well, it was transferred to Broadway?s Al Hirschfeld Theatre in 2009 running for 548 performances. The cast consisted of?
Tony winner Gavin Creel (later Kyle Riabko) as ?Claude?,
Tony nominee Will Swenson (later Ace Young) as ?Berger?,
Bryce Ryness (later Jason Wooten) as ?Woof?,
Caissie Levy (later Diana DeGarmo) as ?Sheila?,
Sasha Allen (later Jeannette Bayardelle) as ?Dionne?,
Allison Case (later Vanessa Ray) as ?Crissy?,
and Kacie Sheik (later Annaleigh Ashford) as ?Jeannie?.
The 2009 Broadway revival was nominated for 8 Tonys that year winning 1 for Best Revival of a Musical.
Following the 2010 closing of the 2009 revival, the production went on a National Tour and fans were begging to have the production back on Broadway. The producers decided to bring HAIR at Broadway?s St. James Theatre for a limited 3 month engagement of 67 performances. This returning engagement starred?.
Paris Remillard as ?Claude?,
Steel Burkhardt as ?Berger?,
Matt DeAngelis as ?Woof?,
Caren Tackett as ?Sheila?,
Phyre Hawkins as ?Dionne?,
Kaitlin Kiyan as ?Crissy?,
and Kacie Sheik reprising her role of ?Jeannie?.
In addition to its success on stage, HAIR went on to become a hit on the big screen. The film version was released in 1979 from United Artist. The reviews were favorable but the original creative were not happy how the production was set up. Some of the storyline was changed with all new songs added in just for the film. The cast included?
John Savage as ?Claude?,
Treat Williams as ?Berger?,
Don Dacus as ?Woof?,
Beverly D’Angelo as ?Sheila?,
Renn Woods as ?Dionne?,
Annie Golden as ?Jeannie?,
The film still went on to receive a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy.
In addition, it has just been announced that HAIR will be hitting the small screen Spring 2019 as NBC?s next live televised musical.
HAIR today continues to be a popular show done in schools, community, regional theaters, and concert stages worldwide.
Doesn?t this performance make you want to rock out?
The cast of the 2009 Broadway revival of the musical HAIR, perform the number “Hair” live at the 2009 Tony Awards
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