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date: 22 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter looks at the 1979 film version of the stage musical Hair (1968) and the very different political climates in which each appeared. The chapter describes the film as a radical rewrite but also regards it as remaining faithful to the central ideas within the 1968 Broadway show, even returning key elements of the first off-Broadway production, in 1967. Charting the musical’s journey from stage to screen in meticulous detail, the chapter reveals how changing priorities and changing media brought about important shifts in Hair as a work. In particular, the rejection of a draft screenplay by the stage version’s book writers Rado and Ragni in favour of a new text by playwright Michael Weller meant that Hair on the screen was no longer a song cycle, or concept album but instead a completely new rendering by director Miloš Forman, who claimed to have ‘read’ political or social themes already present in the work. In this chapter, Hair becomes a new case study in the fidelity versus freedom debate on musical adaptations.

Keywords: Hair, Miloš Forman, Rado, Ragni, fidelity versus freedom

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