Diane Paulus (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
NBC’s Hair Live!, the original rock musical that is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, has found its directorial duo: Stage director Diane Paulus, the Tony Award-winning director of Broadway’s 2009 Best Revival of Hair, will join Emmy Award-winning Alex Rudzinski, who will serve as live television director as he did for Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, which just garnered him an Emmy nomination.
Hair Live! is set for broadcast on Sunday, May 19, 2019, before a live audience.
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who have executive produced each of NBC’s live musicals since The Sound of Music Live!, will executive produce the telecast. Rudzinski will also executive produce.
“We have the dream team to bring Hair Live! vividly to life and create another unforgettable night of live television,” said Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment. “I was at the electrifying opening night of Diane Paulus’ Tony-winning revival of Hair 10 years ago and was blown away by how relevant and utterly joyous this show became in her hands. She is one of the most successful directors working in the theatre today and we’re thrilled she will be collaborating with Alex Rudzinski, the most daring director working in live musical television. This show also has one of the great scores of all time with songs that climbed the charts 50 years ago and have since become iconic hits in our pop culture.”
NBC’s most recent live musical spectacular, Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, was recently nominated for 13 Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Variety Special (Live), and recognition for actors John Legend, Sara Bareilles, and Brandon Victor Dixon, marking the first time any actor was nominated for an Emmy in the live musical genre.
As an acclaimed Broadway director, Paulus’ many credits include Hair (Tony Award, Best Revival), The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (Tony Award, Best Revival; NAACP Award, Best Direction), Pippin (Tony Awards, Best Director, Musical, Best Revival), and Sara Bareilles’ Waitress (Tony-nominated, Best Musical). Paulus is the Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director of the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at Harvard University. Her world premiere production of Jagged Little Pill, inspired by Alanis Morissette’s groundbreaking album of the same name, recently completed a record-breaking engagement at the A.R.T. She was selected for the 2014 TIME 100, Time magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Rudzinski served as the live television director and executive producer of NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert and he also serves as director and executive producer of NBC’s hit dance competition series World of Dance. He was nominated for a DGA Award for his live television direction of Hairspray Live! and has won two Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Direction for a Variety Special for his work on Fox’s musical Grease Live! He has directed 22 seasons of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and his other work includes The MTV Video Music Awards, A Christmas Story Live!, the U.K.’s Strictly Come Dancing, and The X Factor, as well as NBC’s upcoming The Titan Games.
Hair Live! tells the story of peace, love and hope, through 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.
Fifty years ago Hair burst onto Broadway in the midst of the anti-Vietnam War movement and was groundbreaking in many ways. Since then, its integrated cast, messages of peace and love, and certified-platinum “rock” score have become iconic. With music by Galt MacDermot and book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado, Hair has a string of hits that have been played all over the globe, including “(The Age of) Aquarius,” “Let the Sun Shine In,” Good Morning Starshine,” (all #1 hits in 1969), “Hair,” “Frank Mills” and more.
After an off-Broadway debut on Oct. 17, 1967, as the inaugural production of Joseph Papp’s now-legendary Public Theater, the show opened on Broadway in April 1968 and ran for 1,750 performances. Hair quickly became not just a smash-hit show, but a genuine cultural phenomenon that spawned a monster cast album and a #1 song on the pop charts for the Fifth Dimension. Simultaneous productions in cities across the United States and Europe followed, including a successful London production that ran for 1,997 performances.
Numerous productions of the show have been staged around the world, spawning dozens of recordings of the musical, including the 3 million-selling original Broadway cast recording. Some of the songs from its score became Top 10 hits, and a feature film adaptation was released in 1979, directed by two-time Oscar winner Milos Forman and choreographed by Twyla Tharp. Paulus’s Broadway revival opened in 2009 at the Delacorte Theatre as part of the Public Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park and then moved to Broadway in 2009, earning strong reviews and winning the Tony and Drama Desk Award for Best Revival of a Musical.