NBC’s next live musical is going to be Hair, one of our favorite musicals of all time. The announcement comes after NBC’s recent attempt at Jesus Christ Superstar, which was both a hit among viewers and critics alike. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who have executive produced each of NBC’s live musicals since The Sound of Music, will executive produce the Hair live musical.
“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.”
After an off-Broadway debut on Oct. 17, 1967, the show opened on Broadway in April 1968 and ran for 1,750 performances. Hair tells the story of a “tribe” of politically resistant hippies living in Vietnam War-era New York. The musical’s profanity, open drug use, progressive treatment of sexuality, irreverence for the American flag and famed nude scene caused much fervor.
Hair was also culturally groundbreaking for its ethnically diverse cast and is cited as being the first “rock musical” to take Broadway by storm.
Famous songs from the show include “Aquarius,” “Easy to be Hard,” “Good Morning Starshine,” “Three-Five-Zero-Zero,” and, of course, “Hair.”
“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 about the Hair live musical. “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.”
While many of the songs will remain in this new Hair live musical, we’re interested to see how this Hair live musical, airing on broadcast television, will handle the show’s infamous nude scene during the Act 1 finale.
Jesus Christ Superstar marked a departure from NBC’s mostly family-friendly choices into more adult themes. The decision to stage a Hair live musical also comes after Fox announced its next will be Rent. These choices are exciting, as it’s obvious the networks are no longer choosing family-friendly classics like The Sound of Music and Peter Pan and are instead opting for more culturally poignant representations of humanity with historical significance.
But will Fox water down Rent the way it did with Rocky Horror Picture Show? While it’s easy to take out a nude scene from Hair, it’s much harder to water down the storyline of Rent, in which the main protagonists are comprised of a genderqueer drag queen dying of AIDS and a stripper battling heroin addiction. Hopefully censorship isn’t alive and well within the productions, which we’re super excited to see on the small screen.
What’s next? Book of Mormon? Avenue Q? Can you imagine?