Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical is a rock musical by James Rado and Gerome Ragni and music by Galt MacDermot. This musical is a product of the hippie counter-culture and sexual revolution of the 1960s, several of its songs became anthems of the anti-Vietnam War peace movement. Hair caused much comment and controversy and broke new ground in musical theatre by defining the genre of “rock musical” through its profanity, its depiction of the use of illegal drugs, its treatment of sexuality, its irreverence for the American flag, its nude scene, using a racially integrated cast, and inviting the audience onstage for a “Be-In” finale. Hair tells the story of the “tribe”, a group of politically active, long-haired hippies of the “Age of Aquarius” living a bohemian life in New York City and fighting against conscription into the Vietnam War. Claude, who is the main character, his good friend Berger, their roommate Sheila and their friends struggle to balance their young lives, love and the sexual revolution with their rebellion against the war and their conservative parents and society. Ultimately, Claude must decide whether to resist the draft as his friends have done, or to succumb to the pressures of his parents (and conservative America) to serve in Vietnam.
One way that Hair broke new ground in musical theatre by defining the genre of “rock musical” (A rock musical is described as a story that is being told through rock music). The music for Hair is an unusual combination of rock music and whimsical sorts of chanting. Hair also broke ground in musical theatre through its shocking use of: profanity, sex, drugs, nudity and a racially intergraded cast. Hair takes its audience on a journey through the hippie counter-culture of the 1960’s. Hair is one of the major musicals to push the envelope on what is acceptable to perform in theatre.
Even though Hair it is about the 1960’s counter-culture, we still find it relatable today because of its ageless themes of free love, peace and anti-war. Hair gives its audiences a peak into the past and tells them to question what you are told and to fight for what you believe in, among its other messages of love and living simply. Over all, Hair blazed the trail for other rock musicals, such as Rent, and broke barriers in musical theater with its strong themes of drug use, sexuality, and anti-war/anti-patriotism.
“Hair (musical).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Aug. 2013. Web. 10 Dec. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hair_(musical)>.
“Rock musical.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Oct. 2013. Web. 11 Dec. 2013.