NBC is entering the Age of Aquarius. The broadcaster announced Thursday it’s set the 1967 Broadway hit “Hair” as its next live musical.
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron — who have executive produced each of the Peacock’s song-fueled telecasts from “The Sound of Music” to the recent John Legend-led “Jesus Christ Superstar Live” — will lead the rock opera, which is slated to air in Spring 2019 and tape in front of a live audience.
“I’m overjoyed that James Rado and Galt MacDermot are trusting us with their masterpiece ‘Hair,’ one of the most original shows ever conceived for Broadway with one of the greatest scores,” said Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment in a statement Thursday.
“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. 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.”
“Hair Live!” tells the story of a group of politically active hippies living a bohemian life in New York while fighting against and resisting the Vietnam War.
Claude, his good friends Berger and Sheila, and their “tribe” are coming of age in the world of the sexual revolution while struggling with their rebellion against the war and their conservative parents and society.
Claude must decide whether to resist the draft as his friends have done, or succumb to the pressures of conservative America to serve in Vietnam, compromising his principles and beliefs.
Iconic songs from the rock opera that first hit Broadway in 1968 include “(The Age of) Aquarius,” “Let the Sun Shine In,” “Good Morning Starshine,” “Hair,” “Manchester, England,” and “Frank Mills.”
The musical, first produced at Joseph Papp’s Public Theater in 1967, had a long and successful Broadway run beginning the following year. Diane Paulus’ 2009 revival, which ran for just over a year, won the Tony Award for Best Musical Revival.
“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,” said Zadan and Meron. “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.”
“We are thrilled to continue to work with Bob Greenblatt, NBC and now with Neil and Craig, who are the two absolute geniuses in the musical theater space,” said Mark Burnett, President, MGM Television Group. “‘Hair’ has become such an iconic film in our culture, and now on its 50th anniversary it’s the ideal time to perform it live on television.”
“Hair Live!” will be backed by Universal Television, MGM Television, and Zadan/Meron Productions.