James Rado, born James Alexander Radomski on January 23, 1932, is an American actor, writer, and composer, best known for his work on the iconic musical "Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical." Rado co-wrote the book and lyrics of the musical alongside Gerome Ragni, with music by Galt MacDermot.
"Hair" premiered off-Broadway in 1967 and later moved to Broadway in 1968. It became a groundbreaking production, known for its countercultural themes and its portrayal of the hippie movement, addressing topics such as anti-war activism, sexual liberation, and racial integration. The show's success was partly due to Rado and Ragni's collaboration, which captured the spirit of the era.
As a performer, Rado originated the role of Claude Bukowski in the original production of "Hair." His portrayal of the young man grappling with his identity and responsibilities during the Vietnam War resonated with audiences. Rado's performance in the show garnered critical acclaim and helped solidify the musical's place in theater history.
Rado's involvement in "Hair" extended beyond his performance. He actively contributed to the writing process, infusing the musical with his own experiences and perspectives. Rado's lyrics, in particular, reflected the sentiments and social issues prevalent during the late 1960s.
Following the success of "Hair," Rado worked on other projects. He collaborated with Galt MacDermot on other musicals, including "Dude" (1972) and "The Human Comedy" (1983)
Throughout his career, Rado remained connected to the legacy of "Hair." He directed numerous revivals of the musical around the world and continued to perform in various productions. Rado also contributed to the creation of the film adaptation of "Hair" released in 1979, which preserved the essence of the original musical on the big screen.
James Rado's work on "Hair" has had a lasting impact on American theater and popular culture. The musical broke new ground in terms of its content, form, and style, inspiring subsequent generations of theater-makers to explore unconventional narratives and push boundaries. Rado's contributions as a writer, performer, and advocate for social change have cemented his place in the history of musical theater.