- Associated Press - Saturday, March 15, 2014

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - To strip or not to strip?

That was the question for a touring production of the musical “Hair” as it stopped in Evansville and Fort Wayne recently.

The original version of the 1960s-era counterculture show features a brief nude scene for the song “Where Do I Go?” But a “clean” version also exists in which cast members keep their clothes on.

Fort Wayne opted for the original version but ensured advertising for the show specified that it contained nudity.

A day later, Evansville took the “clean” version after fielding dozens of complaints about a 2010 production of “Spring Awakening” that included nudity and simulated sexual encounters.

Aiken Theatre general manager Darren Stearns tells the Evansville Courier & Press (https://bit.ly/1cWSQRj ) that he received dozens of complaints about “Spring Awakening.” The Tony-winning musical is built around sexual confusion and repression among 19th-century German teenagers.

“Oh my goodness,” said Stearns. “We got numerous calls, and I mean dozens of calls about the vulgarity of that particular play.”

After reviewing that history, he and the production company agreed to bring the “clean” version of “Hair” to Evansville, he said.

Fort Wayne’s Embassy Theatre also received complaints over “Spring Awakening” in 2010. But marketing director Barb Richards said she thinks that stemmed largely from a failure to warn theater patrons of the content in advance.

The Embassy solicited input from the community before deciding which version of “Hair” to book. It posed the question of nudity or no nudity on Facebook, and most respondents said that they would prefer the original version, Richards said.

“But they would also like to know ahead of time if the show did contain nudity,” she added.

Advertisements for Fort Wayne’s show included a notice that read, “Show contains nudity.” The venue has had no complaints about the show, she said.

“I thought it was perfect,” Richards said. “They were angry, they took off their clothes. It was 20 seconds and that was it. I thought it fit the story well.”


Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, https://www.courierpress.com

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