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The musical's profanity, its depiction of the use of illegal drugs, its treatment of sexuality, its irreverence for the American flag, and its nude scene caused much comment and controversy, 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, his good friend Berger, their roommate Sheila and their friends struggle to balance their young lives, loves, and the sexual revolution with their rebellion against the war and their conservative parents and society.
He had been the authors' first choice to direct the Public Theater production, but he was in Europe at the time.
Newsweek described O'Horgan's directing style as "sensual, savage, and thoroughly musical ...
the inspiration to include nudity came when the authors saw an anti-war demonstration in Central Park where two men stripped naked as an expression of defiance and freedom, and they decided to incorporate the idea into the show.
Papp declined to pursue a Broadway production, and so Butler produced the show himself, for a time it seemed that Butler would be unable to secure a Broadway theater, as the Shuberts, Nederlanders and other theater owners deemed the material too controversial.
We knew this group of kids in the East Village who were dropping out and dodging the draft, and there were also lots of articles in the press about how kids were being kicked out of school for growing their hair long".
The tribe recites a list of pharmaceuticals, legal and illegal ("Hashish").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, compromising his pacifist principles and risking his life.After an off-Broadway debut on October 17, 1967, at Joseph Papp's Public Theater and a subsequent run at the Cheetah nightclub from December 1967 through January 1968, the show opened on Broadway in April 1968 and ran for 1,750 performances.However, Butler had family connections and knew important people; he persuaded Biltmore Theatre owner David Cogan to make his venue available.Claude, the nominal leader of the "tribe", sits center stage as the tribe mingles with the audience.A tribe member reminds him that he's really from Flushing, New York.