During the closing number, entitled 'The Flesh Failures', when Berger sings the third verse, background singers can be heard singing lines from William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The words come from Romeo's death scene before drinking the poison. Phrases such as 'Eyes, Look your Last, Arms take your last embrace' and 'The lips, oh you the doors, of breath, sealed with a righteous kiss' are all from Romeo's final monologue. This is then followed by 'Hamlet''s last line, "The rest is silence."
Although the film is based on the theatrical stage musical as well as sharing some of the songs and character names, the two versions are drastically different in most respects including plot, which songs are sung, the order in which they are performed and which character performs them, and how the characters are portrayed.
Playing the fiancée of LaFayette "Hud" Johnson (Dorsey Wright) was actress Cheryl Barnes, who had previously appeared in the Broadway stage musical productions of "Godspell" and "Jesus Christ Superstar", and in this movie performs the "Easy to be Hard" musical number. Director Milos Forman said of Barnes' audition in the magazine 'Turnaround': "As she started to sing the tune she had prepared, a hush came over the room. She had a voice like a bell, flawless musicality, and great presence".
The original Broadway production of "Hair" opened at the Biltmore Theater on 20th April 1968 and ran for 1750 performances before it closed on 1st July 1972. The production was nominated for the 1969 Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical.
Director Milos Forman attended the very first off-Broadway performance of "Hair" in 1967 in New York, USA. Backstage after the show, Forman told the musical's creators James Rado, Gerome Ragni and Galt MacDermot that he was interested in making a filmed version of the stage musical and to please consider him for directing its production.
Reportedly, director Milos Forman had been attempting to stage a production of the theatrical musical version of "Hair" in Prague in his home country of Czechoslovakia [now the Czech Republic] when Russia invaded the nation in 1968.
Over approximately 20,000 extras and background artists participated in the musical numbers "3-5-0-0" and "Let the Sun Shine In" which were both staged at the base of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, USA.
According to Emily Soares at the 'Turner Classic Movies' website, "the only casting regret [director Milos] Forman has is for director Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without a Cause (1955)) in the role of The General. Though he performed well, Ray had to endure clouds of heavy smoke for his big scene, and it was only weeks later that Forman learned he was dying of lung cancer".
During the production of this picture, director Milos Forman was nationalized as an American citizen of the USA, and was appointed Head of the Film Department at Columbia University in New York City, where the high majority of Hair (1979) was filmed.
Second consecutive back-to-back Vietnam War related picture of actor John Savage who had co-starred in Michael Cimino's previous year's 'Nam epic war film The Deer Hunter (1978) which won five Academy Awards including Best Picture.
Star John Savage had previously won a Drama Circle Award for his performance in a stage production of Ken Kesey's "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" (1962) novel (its first stage version had been produced in 1963). Hair (1979) movie director Milos Forman had previously directed the film version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).
A March 1979 'Life' magazine article on the movie said of the film's Czech director Milos Forman: "He comes from the land of Kafka and he could understand youth in rebellion, since his own country has a tradition of subtle resistance to authority. They've been dominated so often, so long".
Approximately 10,0000 New York residents partook in the Central Park sequences as extras and background artists which was the setting for the musical numbers "Colored Spade", "Ain't Got No" (aka "I'm Black") and "Aquarius" (aka "The Age of Aquarius") as well as other key pieces.
The film was made and released about twelve years after its source stage musical "Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical" had been first performed Off-Broadway at the Joseph Papp's Public Theater in New York, USA in 1967.
Producer Lester Persky's production company CIP Filmproduktion GmbH bought the film rights to the stage production "Hair" in 1972 for a then quite sizable amount of approximately $1,050,000 from theatre producer Michael Butler who also acted as a producer on the filmed version.
The actress who sings "White Boys" with Nell Carter and Charlayne Woodard, is Broadway and Film star, Trudy Perkins, who also sings the on-camera vocal solo and theme song, "These Hands" in the 1977 film "El Puente".
The song "Frank Mills," which is performed in the musical by a character named Crissy, was filmed but eliminated from the movie during the editing. Crissy was played in the film by Suzette Charles who was eliminated from the film when the song was cut. Four years after the film's release, Charles would succeed Vanessa Williams when Williams was dethroned as Miss America in 1983. The old RCA two-record soundtrack for the film does not list who sang what in the film, but the souvenir program for the movie included a removable plastic extended play recording of selected songs from the film that does list the singers. Included on the E.P. is "Frank Mills" and Charles is credited as the vocalist. Also, as already noted here, Betty Buckley provided the voice for the young Vietnamese actress who sings "Walking in Space." Again, Buckley is not credited on the soundtrack album but is on the light plastic E.P. included in the program.