It’s not like nobody’s ever disrobed in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts…
They just never did it in full view of the audience. That was remedied last night- on February 5, 2013 – when just before intermission the entire cast of the musical Hair bared it all in the opening night’s performance.
Make no mistake, this was no smoke and mirrors Full Monty affair. The stage lights were up and the “goods” were on the table for all to see. All the goods.
But was it really a first?
“Probably,” says Theater League main man Mark Edelman. “The opera and the ballet probably haven’t had any nudity.”
Kauffman Center president Jane Chu confirmed that ‘Hair’ was a no-holds-barred, full frontal nudity first for the PAC.
So did the Theater League have to get permission? You know, check with vice or something.
“No, it’s a work of art,” Edelman explains. “I didn’t check.”
It was also a first for Edelman and the Theater League.
“Yeah, because I never presented ‘Hair’ before,” he says. “Or ‘Oh Calcutta’ or ‘Let My People Come.’ ”
Raising the question of whether an audience advisory was issued?
“Yes, a lot of warnings,” Edelman stresses. “On our website, on our brochures and in all the ads. We wanted people to know. Although it is ‘Hair’ and it’s famous for its nudity.”
“The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” debuted at a small theater in New York in 1967, before migrating in 1968 to Broadway.
“This was the musical that brought the sounds of rock and roll to Broadway,” Edelman says.
And while true rock believers of the harder-edged variety may find the “rock” element pretty dialed back – “Aquarius“, for example – technically it’s what passed for AM radio pop rock in the 1960s.
Even “Easy to be Hard?”
“It’s a rock ballad,” Edelman says. “Just like ‘Wild Horses‘ or ‘As Tears Go By.’ ”
Edelman’s most hair-raising “Hair” story?
“Well, there’s a great story about when this thing first started and it was off Broadway and a guy named Michael Butler, who was an heir to the McDonald’s fortune I think, found the show and brought it to Broadway. He had it going into a theater where ‘My Fair Lady‘ had just been and there was a controversy about how much money they made. You know, it’s a cash business and it’s impossible to tell. And the accountant for the show committed suicide.”
There you have it. Be a part of KC pop culture history as ‘Hair’ continues now through Sunday at the Kauffman Center.