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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Theatre Thursday: Bare Necessities

This week in 1969, a very unusual show opened on Broadway that would ultimately become one of its longest-running shows. In fact, even now it still holds sixth place. The critics were not terribly fond of it, but audiences loved it. It was the work of several authors including Sam Shepard, Samuel Beckett, and John Lennon. The show takes its name from a painting by reluctant surrealist Clovis Trouille, itself a pun on the phrase, "O quel cul t'as!" something a bold Frenchman might say to, say, Jennifer Lopez.
The show is Oh, Calcutta!

There is actually not very much of the musical that I can show here as the avante-garde production featured sketches of a highly sexual nature including full nudity from the cast, which was also a major factor in the show's popularity.
This is also why it is not often produced by local theatre groups. However, if you want to see it, a filmed version of the show was made in 1972 and it is now available on DVD. I saw it some years ago on VHS and, while it is clever at times, I do think that it's popularity was a product of its boldness at the time.
Of course, it is worth noting that no musical production since has really attempted to be so bold in its subject matter or the nature of its production, so maybe it isn't so dated after all.

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