Oh! Calcutta! is an avant-garde theatrical revue, created by British drama critic Kenneth Tynan. The show, consisting of sketches on sex-related topics, debuted Off-Broadway in 1969 and then in London in 1970. It ran in London for over 3,900 performances, and in New York initially for 1,314. Revivals enjoyed even longer runs, including a Broadway revival that ran for 5,959 performances, making the show the longest-running revue in Broadway history at the time.
It is currently the 5th longest-running show in Broadway history.
The show sparked considerable controversy at the time, because it featured extended scenes of total nudity, both male and female. The title is taken from a painting by Clovis Trouille, itself a pun on "O quel cul t'as!" French for "What an arse you have!".
Background and productions
Tynan had hoped that Harold Pinter would direct the production, in order to give it avant-garde legitimacy, but Pinter declined. Sketches were written by, amongst others, Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett, John Lennon, Sam Shepard, Leonard Melfi, Edna O'Brien, Jules Feiffer, and Tynan himself, and featured the cast naked. Peter Schickele (aka "PDQ Bach"), Robert Dennis and Stanley Walden were the revue's composers, known as The Open Window.
The musical opened off-Broadway at the Eden Theatre on June 17, 1969, transferred to the Belasco Theatre on February 17, 1971, and closed on August 12, 1972 after a total of 1,314 performances. It was directed by Jacques Levy (the songwriting partner of Bob Dylan on his album Desire), choreographed by Margo Sappington, and the cast were: Raina Barrett, Mark Dempsey, Katie Drew-Wilkinson, Boni Enten, Bill Macy, Alan Rachins, Leon Russom, Margo Sappington, Nancy Tribush and George Welbes, as well as the 3 "Open Window" composers.
The musical premiered in London on July 27, 1970 at the Roundhouse Theatre and transferred to the West End Royalty Theatre on September 30, 1970 running through January 27, 1974. The show then transferred to the Duchess Theatre on January 28, 1974, where it ran until 1980 for a total of 3,918 performances.
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