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    Posted August 10, 2009

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Oh! Calcutta! Full Frontal Fortieth Reunion

by Kathrin King Segal

Peter Schickele, Nancy Tribush Hillman, Mitch McGuire

On June 17, 1969, when the sexual revolution was finding its way into the arts, the sassy, erotic musical revue OH! CALCUTTA! opened at the Eden, a Yiddish-turned-vaudeville-turned-burlesque-turned-legitimate theater on Second Avenue and Twelfth Street. Created by British drama critic, Kenneth Tynan, it was a collection of comic sketches with sexual themes, penned by writers that included John Lennon, Jules Pfeiffer, Sam Shepherd and Robert Benton, and songs/musical interludes composed by Peter Schikele (a/k/a PDQ Bach), Stanley Walden and Robert Dennis, as well as dances that featured full nudity, performed by a gorgeous cast of five men and five women.

Bill Macy, Alan Rachins

Exactly forty years later, the original cast, their replacements and actors from subsequent productions, including the Belasco and Edison in New York, and the San Francisco and Los Angeles companies, gathered in L. A. for a "Full Frontal Fortieth Reunion". Hosted by Alan Rachins (L.A. Law, Dharma & Greg), one of the 'original ten', and his wife, Joanna Rachins, it was a packed house. In addition to Alan, the first cast was represented by Bill Macy (Maude), Boni Enten Bryant, Katie Drew-Wilkinson, Nancy Tribush Hillman (who organized the party), Raina Barrett Handleman and Margo Sappington, the show's dancer/choreographer, along with Kathrin King Segal, Martin Speer, Samantha Harper (who married Bill Macy shortly after they met in the show in 1970), Maureen Byrnes, William Knight, Pamela Pilkenton, Mel Auston, Bob Goldstein, Karen Whittaker, Michael Cavanaugh, Mitch McGuire, Cyndi Howard, John Hamill; and Peter Schikele and Stanley Walden. The actors and musicians traded stories and anecdotes, laughed a lot, kept their clothes on and generally recognized one another despite the passage of so many years. There were poignant memories of those who have passed on: director Jacques Levy, represented by his widow, Claudia Levy; Mark Dempsey, and George Welbes, Margo's dance partner in the very naked pas de deux. Various friends, relatives and spouses added to an enjoyable evening.

Clockwise from top row, left: Cindy Howard, Bob Goldstein, William Knight, Martin Speer, Nancy Tribush Hillman, Mitch McGuire, Karen Whittaker, Kathrin King Segal, Michael Cavanaugh, Samantha Harper, Alan Rachins, Mel Auston, Stanley Walden, Katie Drew-Wilkinson (hidden), Maureen Byrnes, Margo Sappington, John Hamill, Bill Macy, Pamela Pilkenton, Raina Barrett Handleman, Boni Enten Bryant, Claudia Levy, Peter Schickele

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