Hair to open in Central Park

July 21, 2008 8:33:20 AM PDT
Forty-one years ago the musical "Hair" debuted, sending shock waves through the theater world for its portrayal of the hippie culture. "Hair" is once again taking the stage, opening Tuesday night in Central Park.

Decades later, the music still resonates. Rehearsals for the 60's rock musical have been taking place at the Public Theatre in Greenwich Village.

A new generation is giving voice to a show that captured the hippie generation, reflecting the sex, drugs and rock and roll culture of its time.

Back then, the musical was controversial. The show had nudity and what some felt was an anti-Vietnam war message. This new production will closely follow the original. Director Diane Paulus says she's thrilled to bring Hair to a new audience.

"I think I come from a generation that grew up on the music, but never had a chance to see the show. For me to create that for our audience is getting to live it, when I missed it," Paulus said.

The show's young cast missed it, too. Old photos were posted in the rehearsal space to give the actors a feel for the sixties.

Jonathan Groff plays the war draftee, Claude. He says the songs reflect that turbulent time.

"They seem like fun, and they are a blast, like fun, crazy hippie songs. But they really pack a punch and they have some emotional power and weight to them," Groff said.

Hair will begin its run Tuesday at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.

Will Swenson, who plays the hippie rebel who befriends Claude, can't wait to play the park.

"Insanely exciting," he said. "The Delacorte Theatre is the best theatre in the business.

Anyone who has worked here will vouch for that. Just a special theater. Anyone who comes to the theatre is just so excited."

The show will run through August.

Tickets are for free and are only distributed at the Delacorte on the day of the performance. A limited number of tickets will also be given away online. To be eligible, viewers must first register at the public theater's website at

-- STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Jeff Pegues