Dance History Quiz | The Event That Changed Hair

DHQ_T
Fun facts for teachers & students

Hair made its Broadway debut 50 years ago this spring. What real-life 1960s event prompted co-creators James Rado and Gerome Ragni to make a last-minute change to the show?

a. Rado’s oldest son was drafted and sent to Vietnam.
b. Students staged a sit-in at Columbia University.
c. Protesters in New York’s Central Park stripped nude in public.
d. Thousands of people joined in the Poor People’s March in Washington, DC.

Answer
c. Protesters in New York’s Central Park stripped nude in public.

Although Hair (dubbed “The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical”) was about the hippie counterculture movement of the 1960s, it had no nudity in its first two productions, according to the Tams-Witmark Musical Library: “Just before the Broadway run, though, Rado and Ragni witnessed Central Park protesters spontaneously stripping naked. They immediately decided that nudity was essential to express the defiance and freedom of the characters in their show.” The nude scene was not added for publicity value, Rado told Broadway Buzz in a 2009 interview: “It was a cry for freedom, and it reflected the reality of what was happening.”

For more information:
21 Things You Should Know About Hair,” Tams-Witmark Musical Library

How Hair’s Nude Hippies Changed Broadway Forever,” Broadway Buzz, March 5, 2009