250 Test Skills at Hair Auditions
by Howard Thompson
The New York Times - November 3, 1969

Hair is still growing healthily, as evidenced by an open-call audition that drew over 250 aspiring performers on Saturday, and will continue today at Theater 80, St. Marks Place.  The selected hopefuls will join companies of the tribal rock musical in Toronto, Boston, Chicago, and on the West Coast.

Alerted by handbills and a few notices in the trade press announcing the auditions, and clad in colorful hippie attire that included pullover sweaters, sandals, beads and lockets, the youngsters waited their turn in front of the theater.

One by one, they filed into the auditorium, where their names were announced, mounted the stage and did their thing for the Hair hierarchy seated together down front.

The viewers included the director-spokesman Tom O'Horgan, seated behind his secretary with a clipboard; his assistant Dan Sullivan, and one of the co-authors, James Rado, whose partner was expected later. The producer, Michael Butler, quietly watched from the rear.

Tunes from hair were dominant, as a young woman thumped a piano at stage left.  A courteous "thank you" from mr. O'Horgan terminated a few tryouts, such as that of a giggling, greyhound imitation of Tiny Tim, prancing back and forth with Tiptoe Through The Tulips.  Another was a blandly confident youth pealing "I Gotta Be Me".  A blonde with a pure soprano was politely heard out by the Hair jury as she submitted the love theme from Romeo and Juliet.

Anyway, they had hair." murmured one of the judges.

"What's the matter, darling?" Mr. O'Horgan asked a brunette who shyly removed her shoes. "I'm scared." she said.  "I've never auditioned anywhere before."

"I like your dress."
"You'll hate my voice." she quavered.  Everybody laughed.  The girl sang "I Wonder As I Wonder", and well.  Like many of the applicants, she had a college background (Fordham) and some musical flexing (" a few ticky-tacky places").

During a coffee break, Mr. Rado commented quietly:  "The stringy haired boy, the one who just did El Dorado, we'll probably use.  He is HAir - the freshness, right off the street, the way we started.  They're all so young.  I wish we could use them all.  When we first got here today and got out of the taxi, I heard one of the kids say 'Here come the professionals'.  That really set me back."

Copyright The New York Times Company. All rights reserved.

To return to the Hair Articles Index click here.
                                                                          Or use your Back button to return to where you were.