G. Rado and Mr. Ragni, meanwhile, decided that their lyrics needed better melodies than the ones they had written, and set out in search of a legitimate composer who would improve the songs. The search led to Canadian-born Galt MacDermott, which was the most incredible choice: he was slightly older than his colleagues and a straight arrow with an eclectic musical background, but a meager experience on Broadway. G. MacDermot wrote the melody for the “Aquarius” versions and several other songs, according to the specification, in less than 36 hours. It immediately became clear that he was the ideal choice for putting the lyrics of Mr. Rad and Mr. Ragni into show music.
Demonstrations soon followed in the office of Mr. Pope, and Mr. MacDermott sang and played new songs of this trio. Impressed, Mr. Pap announced that he would open the public with “Hair”.
However, questioning himself, he soon withdrew his offer, only to reconsider after an audition in the returnee office, this time with Mr. Radom and Mr. Ragni who sang. “Hair” actually opened the Public Theater on October 17, 1967, with 32-year-old Mr. Ragney leading the cast as George Berger – the nominal leader of the hippie tribe – but without the 35-year-old Mr. Rado, when the series was directed by Gerald. Friedman considered it too old to play the convicted protagonist, Claude Hooper Bukowski, although the character was almost entirely based on Mr. Radu himself.
“Hair” – an impressionistic fairy tale about a flock of flower children on the streets of New York who take LSD, burn tickets, shock tourists and make love before they lost their conflicted friend, Claude, in the Vietnam War – ran for eight weeks in the public brand new Anspacher theater, creating ecstatic oral traditions and critiques that ranged from confused to grateful.
Wealthy young people from the Midwest with political ambitions and strong anti-war policies, named Michael Butler, jumped in to move the show, first to Cheetah, a nightclub on West 53rd Street, and then – much remodeled by Mr. Rado and his associates, and with a visionary new director, Tom O’Horgan, now in charge – on Broadway, where Mr. Rado was returned to the cast as Claude.
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