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Today in History: Hair, the Rock Musical opens in London (1968)

Long hair, flower patches and psychedelic performances and the hippie way of life were the trademarks of the peace revolution in the 60s. Oh, did we mention the musical, Hair?

Peace, love and all things hippie are the main themes for the subject of today’s instalment of Today in History. The musical Hair by James Rado and Gerome Ragni with the music by Galt MacDermot, tackled the hippie counter-culture and the peace movement of the 1960s.

Image by Paul Warwick Photo via Wikipedia

The musical would soon birth anthems for the anti-Vietnam war revolution of the younger generations in anthems like Ain’t Got No and The Flesh Failures. It centered on the lives of a group of politically active students who, as the title suggested, had long hair and lived the bohemian lifestyle in 1960s New York. They were put smack dab in the middle of the Peace revolution that opposed the war in Vietnam.

The rock musical debuted in New York and after critical acclaim and success, went on to open in London to bring the angst and political filled message to the audience in a bigger scale.

Luckily, the show opened just after one day of the lifting of censorships in plays in London that would have been a strong deterrent to the play. With the complete title Hair: the American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, the musical easily had daring overtones during a conservative era.

Several acts of the play included scenes of drug use and the psychedelic experiences to accurately reflect the hippie way of life of the younger demographic during the day. Hair the Musical set the tone for the term rock musical with its lively production, choreography and also the use of profanity in an effort to capture the essence of the time. Though the musical featured various shocking scenes, those only worked to its advantage since the controversy sparked more interest in the musical than negative reactions.

The musical proved to be a great success not only in the commercial and theatrical scene but also in award giving organizations. Hair won the Tony Award by the direction of Diane Paulus and the Drama Desk Award for best revival of a musical. Hair also garnered several outstanding reviews from critics.

In retrospect of the first days of the film, Time magazine wrote “Today Hair seems, if anything, more daring than ever.”

If you liked this article, you might want to check out Today in History: West Side Story debuts in Broadway in 1957

All information used in this article were sourced from Hair the Musical, Hair on Tour, BBC website, Wikipedia

Like this article? Check out more stories from our Today in History and Throwback Thursday series.

written by cheeo

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