The American Tribal Rock Musical in 2 acts: Book and Lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado; Music by Galt MacDermot
Produced for the Broadway Stage by Michael Butler
Originally Produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival Theatre
Biltmore Theatre, Broadway - (1836 perfs)
Shaftesbury Theatre, London - 27 September, 1968 (1997 perfs)
" ..... be free, no guilt, be whatever you are, do whatever you want, just as long as you don't hurt anyone". This Utopian philosophy incorporates many concepts which supply lyrics for a show comprised almost exclusively of rock musical numbers.
In the age of Aquarius, a time of harmony and understanding, sex and drugs are used as vehicles to evade reality and the establishments. George Berger sets the mood in a song about his recent banishment from high school (Going Down). He learns of the draft notice received by his friend, Claude. Claude, whose only valuable possession, other than his freedom, is his Hair, tells of its joys, "Give me a head of hair, long beautiful hair, shining, streaming, flaxen, waxen ... let it fly in the breeze ... I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy, snaggy shaggy ...."
Sheila, a protester from NYU who lives with Berger and Claude, aspires to spread love. In an effort to please, Sheila buys Berger a yellow satin shirt, which he spurns. She feels rejected (Easy To Be Hard). Another girl, Crissy, alone in her thoughts, sings of a boy she once met and of her longings to meet him again (Frank Mills).
The boys burn their draft cards, exhibiting devotion to peace (Hare Krishna). Claude puts his card into the fire, changes his mind and removes it. He has ambivalent feelings about escaping the draft (Where Do I Go?). The kids recognise there is no escape and to ease the immediate tension, Berger passes "joints" to all.
Claude's hallucinations (Walking In Space) are images of war. Two of the group express their feelings about mankind (What a Piece of Work Is Man). Claude realises that once he is inducted into the Army, he will not be able to enjoy all of life's simple pleasures (Good Morning, Starshine and The Bed). He sees life in the streets offers no more fulfilment than life in the establishment. The stripping away of his feeling leaves him a feeling of doom. Dressed in a military uniform Claude enters the sanctum of the kids, but they are unable to see him (Eyes Look Your Last). The finale reveals Claude lying in his uniform on a black cloth in centre stage (The Flesh Failures).
As a social commentary of our times, Hair provides an insight into the Flower Children of the '60s. As the first and most successful of the rock musicals, Hair represents a new element in musical theatre entertainment.
Following extensive tribal mood-setting, signaling a time. of change and introduction by shock, the action focuses on the plight of Claude's personal generation gap.
Claude is a hippie with unsympathetic parents who are disgusted with him. They want him to get a job or join the Army. Uncle Sam obliges by serving Claude with his draft notice. The Tribe is so informed and many suggestions are offered to beat the rap. Berger, a dropout and dominating male Tribe member, leads the impromptu anti-establishment demonstration, following which Sheila arrives. She plays up to Berger, who can't be bothered. Claude wants Sheila in the worst way but receives the same cold shoulder Berger is handing out. Later at the "Be-In," Berger and Sheila host a draft card burning. Claude is last to burn. He puts his card in the flame, but withdraws it at the last minute. He has resigned to the draft. The Tribe decides there must be a proper sendoff.
Amid the fes tivities Berger tries to persuade Sheila to share Claude's last night by promising himself as her reward. Sheila nixes the barter, but that night Berger steers Claude and Sheila together. For a while she plays along, but breaks down to confess Berger's deal. However, Claude takes the initiative and casts his own spell over her, converting her to his own way of thinking.
At the railway station Claude has lost his long hair and appears neatly dressed in uniform. Sheila arrives just in time for the farewell. Ignoring Berger, she stands proudly as Claude is summoned to step forward and join in the ranks.
25 parts, 10 principals, Male 11 Female 10
Tribe: Chorus and Dancers & a large group of named extras although nearly every cast member has at least one featured part. All cast members sing, dance, and take part in choreographed movement. Balanced cast of Negroes and whites essential to original concept of show.
Major portions of dialogue are carried by Berger, Claude, Sheila, Woof, Hud, Jeanie, Crissy, Mom, and Dad. Mom and Dad are the only "over-30" cast members
Total cast, 25-35.
Scenes and Settings
Stripped stage. One raked playing area intimate to the audience; very easy access to audience and back. Totem poles (scaffolding decorated with the accoutrements of an affluent society), ramps and levels, tattered clothes, hangings, hippie decorations and posters. "Love" and other graffiti painted here and there.
Period and costumes
The turned-on hippie generation: Indianlike buckskin jackets, loincloths, moccasins, pants, blankets, tribal masks possible, tee shirts, sweat shirts, old military uniforms, a single sequined gown in which three girls can fit, Afro fashions, wild flower-power shirts, pants and shifts, Indian bead headbands, Levis, bell bottoms, saris, and other Now fashions. Black leather outfits for band. White Indian linen, gold-embroidered gown.
Rock idiom; latest steps can be inserted to beat with no problem. The whole show is choreographed production; a three-ring circus with upstaging everywhere, including the audience. Each sequence overlaps the other to lead the viewer constantly about the production area, hardly ever allowing audience to catch up.
Lighting and Special Effects
Strobe lights, psychedelic colored lighting aimed among the audience, fireworks, tightly controlled lighting that often changes rapidly, moving light projections, sound-mixing equipment required, hand mikes. Projection of dark mysterious men, FBI, and CIA agents. Police puppets.
NOTE: Neither script nor score provides much in the way of production guidance in staging Hair. The shows major achievement was direction, a masterful circuslike presentation with more concurrent actions than any single member of the audience could comprehend. Hair is perhaps best described as a complete assault on the senses with high-decibel music, flashing lights, cast members throughout the audience, and other gimmicks to create excitement and stimulation.
Several rewrites were required during the run of the show to keep it current. Although it could be justified in many ways, the show's much celebrated nude scene served no purpose other than to generate publicity. Through the various transitions the ending and the part of Sheila were drastically rewritten to strengthen the show's anti-war theme. As rewritten there is no mention of a deal between Berger and Sheila. Nor does Claude have to win her over. In the revised version he simply goes off to war and is killed.
Trumpet 1, 2 & 3: Trombone: Percussion: Drums: Bass (electric): Guitar 1 & 2: Electric Piano: Baritone Sax