Actor-Authors of Hair Barred From Theater
by Richard F. Shepard
The New York Times - April 12, 1969

The author-performers of the Broadway hit Hair have been barred by the show's producer from the Biltmore Theater, where their "tribal rock" musical has been running to full houses for almost a year.

James Rado and Gerome Ragni, who wrote the book and lyrics, have been playing leading roles in the show.  Michael Butler, producer of the Broadway version of Hair, could not be reached for comment on the reason for the ban.

However, sources close to the show's management who asked not to be identified, said that Mr. Rado and Mr. Ragni had been improvising their performances and not adhering to the script since their recent return to the show after a five month absence, during which they worked in the Los Angeles company.

Mr. Rado and Mr. Ragni denied yesterday that they had been departing from the script.  They said they would be willing to eliminate anything that the management found "objectionable" in their performances.

The pair were barred twice from the theater.  On Thursday night, Mr. Rado appeared at the theater at 7:30 P.M. to prepare for the performance.

"I went backstage with my mother," the tall, shaggy haired author actor (NOTE: the article cuts immediately to a different sentence here, obviously leaving out a line) Samrock, the New York representative of the show, said the producer had instructed him to tell us not to appear. I asked why and he said something about the police being in the audience to bust the show."

Mr. Ragni, thicket-thatched, said that Mr. Rado had informed him of the ban and then they decided to see the show with the regular audience.  They said a man in the lobby had told them that they could not go in.

The author-actors spoke yesterday as they arrived at the stage door to wait for their lawyer, before trying to enter the theater for a 4 P.M. rehearsal.

Their lawyer, Edward Schlesinger, of Becker & London, soon appeared and said: "You're dismissed from the cast and they will pay your contract as actors. But you're authors and you can go in as authors to see the rehearsal."

The small group entered the theater and Mr. Ragni and Mr. Rado went to seats in the orchestra.  Mr. Samrock came to Mr. Schlesinger and said his instructions were that they pair were not to come into the theater.

"As authors?" Mr. Schlesinger asked.

Mr. Samrock said that this was the case.  Mr. Schlesinger then said that the case would be brought to the Dramatists Guild on Monday.

Mr. Ragni and Mr. Rado appeared upset but followed their lawyers advice to leave.

"How dare he throw us out, treating us like garbage?" Mr. Ragni said.

Outside, Mr. Rado said "They asked us to come back from Los Angeles to take up our parts. I came back on Monday, Gerry on last Wednesday.  Last night i called Mr. Butler in Chicago but he wouldn't talk to us."

"I wish it would close, it doesn't belong here." said Mr. Ragni waving at an armored truck that had come to pick up receipts from the box-office.

Mr. Ragni, who is 26 years old, and Mr. Rado, 29, did not say how much they had realized as actors and authors from hair, which opened in October, 1967, at the Florence Sutro Anspacher Theater off Broadway and moved to Broadway under different auspices in April, 1968.

"The management turns out to be our enemy," said Mr. Rado.  "That's the very thing we're writing about."

Hair is a loosely storied musical about a boy who wants to have an affair with a girl before he gets drafted.  It is more a show that depicts the mood of a generation - young people rebelling against the strictures of society, against war and against outmoded values.

Galt MacDermot, composer of the show's music, joined the actor-authors outside the theater.  He said he wanted to find out more about what was at issue.

"This is not reality." he told the authors.

Mr. Rado and Mr. Ragni suddenly smiled.

"We're not angry. We have a sense of humor." said Mr. Ragni.  "But it's a very bizarre trial."

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.