10 Groundbreaking Broadway Musicals


'Hair' (1968)

Hair' musical
Members of the original Broadway cast of 'Hair' (from right) Lamont Washington, Leata Galloway and Marjorie LiPari rehearse a scene. Bettmann/Getty Images

Even if you don't know much about "Hair," (known also by its full title of "Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical,") you probably know that it features a nude scene. But "Hair" introduced more than nudity to the Great White Way. It was the first rock musical to enjoy mainstream Broadway success. Songs from the show, including "Aquarius" and "Good Morning, Starshine" even made it to the pop music charts, something that's still uncommon for musicals [source: History]. So successful was the sound and feel of "Hair" that it paved the way for future rock musicals like "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."

"Hair" broke all kinds of rules with its explicit talk about sex, drugs, race and the Vietnam War. During an era when blacks were not seen much in major plays, one-third of the cast was African-American. The musical, which was short on plot, but long on tunes, featured a group of hippies living in New York City during the Vietnam War. One of the group must decide whether to join the army or refuse to go to war. The 20-second scene where the original cast disrobed was only possible because show writer James Rado found a city ordinance stating that nudity was OK as long as "as long as the actors didn't move" he said in an interview with Broadway Buzz [source: Henderson].