NBC wants down-to-there hair, shoulder-length or longer …
The network announced Thursday that Hair, the 1960s counterculture sensation, will be its next live musical. Hair is set to be broadcast in spring 2019 and will be produced by NBC’s live-musical masterminds Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.
“When we both, individually, saw Hair on Broadway, we were knocked out by how musical theater could be stretched into something so daring, immersive and audacious,” Zadan and Meron said in a joint statement. “Its recent Broadway revival showed how timeless the show is and that it’s relevant to any era. Hair is filled with heartfelt emotion, joy and thrilling music and it really will be the new dawning of the Age of Aquarius.”
Following the recent success of Jesus Christ Superstar Live, NBC is doubling down on rock musicals broadcast in front of a live audience. Fifty years ago, Hair hit Broadway in the midst of the Vietnam War with its tale of Central Park hippies who are actively protesting the war (including burning their draft cards) and fighting against the conservative sensibilities of their parents and society at large. Claude, along with his friends Sheila and Burger and an entire bohemian “tribe,” look to find their way in a world rent by war, environmental disaster, and stifling social expectations about sex, gender, and more.
The musical features music by Galt MacDermot and book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado, and many of its iconic songs became No. 1 radio hits, including “(The Age of) Aquarius,” “Let the Sun Shine In,” and “Good Morning Starshine.”
“These songs are part of the vocabulary of popular music, and this rebellious story of young people protesting and standing up for what they believe in is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago,” NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said in a statement. “This will be the perfect live event, and I’m looking forward to seeing Craig and Neil, along with our partners at MGM and the original creators, bring the audience to their feet as they experience these beloved songs and recognizable young characters.”
Hair originally opened on Broadway in 1968, and its recent 2009 Broadway revival won the Tony Award for best revival of a musical.
Casting and additional members of the production team are still to be announced, but one safe bet is that NBC will forego the notorious nude scene, which provoked outrage and threats of censorship when the musical first debuted, despite being brief and largely behind a screen.
While Jesus Christ Superstar Live marked a departure into more adult themes and scenarios for NBC’s live musicals after mostly family-friendly choices, Hair is a step further in that direction with its depictions of drug use, sexual freedom, and shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen, hair.