It always sounded too good to be true: A live musical take on a show partly known for its nudity airing on NBC. And yet we came awfully close to Hair, the counterculture’s finest Broadway sensation, joining the likes of The Sound of Music, Grease, Jesus Christ Superstar, and last month’s Rent. Alas, it was not to be. As per Deadline, Hair has been cut from the network’s live musical lineup.
The reason? It’s not famous enough, for one. “Live musicals are a part of this network’s DNA and we are committed to continuing that tradition with the right show at the right time,” read an NBC statement. “Since these shows are such enormous undertakings, we need titles that have a wide appeal and we’re in the process of acquiring the rights to a couple of new shows that we’re really excited about.”
So there’s that, and then there’s the raciness. Almost as famous as its most famous songs — from the title number to “Age of Aquarius” to “Let the Sun Shine In” — is the fact that it was a Broadway sensation that included nudity. Authors Galt MacDermot, Gerome Ragni, and James Rado, who mounted the first production in 1967, wanted the show’s own hippies to be authentic. Thus the show would periodically go blue.
Nudity was optional for the performers, and for productions. In other words, visible naughty bits weren’t a requirement, and the NBC live version could have easily gone the sanitized route, merely playing to nostalgia for the generation that tried to change the world only to sell-out in the Reagan ’80s, turn into mega-capitalists, and eventually vote a repeatedly bankrupt businessman into the most powerful position on earth.
Now we’ll never know. There’s no word on what will come next, so maybe it will be Wicked or Cats or The Phantom of the Opera or some other Broadway cash cow. Too bad — this means we’re probably not going to get a live NBC rendition of the Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus musical Chess.