Monday, January 23 was the Aquarius New Moon AND Chinese New Year (year of the Dragon) - it was also the 80th birthday of one of our National Treasures - James Rado - co-author of the legendary musical HAIR. Rado celebrated this milestone at The Copacabana, with a crowd of over 125 - family and friends - including original Broadway HAIR cast members - Natalie Mosco, Marjorie LiPari, Robert I. Rubinsky (aka Bobby The Middle-Aged Celebrity); HAIR alumni including Heather MacRae, André De Shields, Ula Hedwig, Zora Rasmussen, Dale Soules. Other guests included Luther Creek (SPIDER-MAN, 25th Anniversary tour of HAIR, RENT) who performed excerpts from Rado's latest musical AMERICAN SOLDIER (written with brother Ted Rado) at the party along with Rosalind Brown, A.D. Coughlan, Ula Hedwig, Sean Jenness, Marjorie LiPari, Michael Lynch, Natalie Mosco, Cheryl Pepsii Riley, Gordon Ramsey, Robert I. Rubinsky, Sam Underwood and Alex York.
The event, produced by Shelley Ackerman and Merle Frimark, also featured moving video tributes to Rado, including a special message from Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr who, with The Fifth Dimension, had a big hit with their version of Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" in 1969. The song has since become an anthem for a generation. André De Shields, whose first professional job was in the Chicago production of HAIR in 1969, sang his personal anthem "If You Believe" from THE WIZ. Shelley Ackerman, Zora Rasmussen and De Shields also sang "Young at Heart" for Rado.
Greetings from countless luminaries poured in for Rado - from Mayor Bloomberg, Liz Smith, HAIR alumni Joe Mantegna (CRIMINAL MINDS), Galt MacDermot (who wrote the music and was unable to attend), Oskar Eustis and Chita Rivera (who shares the same January 23rd birthday!) were read by Merle Frimark.
Together with co-author Gerome Ragni (who passed away in 1991) and Galt MacDermot, James Rado created The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical which not only defined a generation, but promoted The Age of Aquarius, Harmony and Understanding, Racial Equality, Love and of course Peace.
The original Broadway production of HAIR opened at the Biltmore Theatre on April 29, 1968 directed by Tom O'Horgan. Diane Keaton, Melba Moore and Ronnie Dyson were among those "discovered" in the original cast. Prior to Broadway, HAIR was first presented at The Cheetah and then opened at The Public Theatre in 1967.
Photo Credit: Merle Frimark, Ralph DeMatthews