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Wednesday, 5 April, 2000, 20:52 GMT 21:52 UK
Turner bares all in stage debut
Kathleen Turner and Matthew Rhys
Turner gets between the sheets with Matthew Rhys
Hollywood sex symbol Kathleen Turner shed her clothes to hushed awe as she made her long-awaited West End stage debut in The Graduate.

I have total respect. It's something I've never quite achieved myself - but I've often volunteered

Hugh Grant
The 45-year-old actress, who plays seductress Mrs Robinson, has already stripped off in front of preview audiences at London's Gielgud Theatre, but Wednesday night was her first time in front of the critics.

The opening night audience included Notting Hill star Hugh Grant and theatre impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Hugh Grant
Hugh Grant: Respect for Turner
When reports filtered out that the star of Romancing The Stone and The Jewel Of The Nile would appear on stage naked, ticket sales for the production immediately doubled.

Turner's full-frontal nude scene occurs as she tries to lure the graduate of the title, who is half her age, into bed.

On a stage bathed in dim blue light, the actress popped out of a shower dressed in a towel, but quickly let her covering drop to the floor much to the embarrassment of the object of her attention, Benjamin Braddock, played by Matthew Rhys.

Grant was full of admiration for her decision to strip: "I have total respect. It's something I've never quite achieved myself - but I've often volunteered."

'Shocking' behaviour

The West End show has so far sold more than 40,000 seats for its 10-week run and has the largest box office advances of any current play.
Kathleen Turner
Kathleen Turner in a scene from The Graduate
The best seats in the house have already sold out for the first month.

Turner takes on the role of Mrs Robinson, made famous by Anne Bancroft in the 1967 film version of The Graduate.

Her character seduces the son of a family friend, who is half her age, and they embark on an affair.

The nude scene is much more risque than the film version, in which Dustin Hoffman (Braddock) watches as Bancroft saucily removes her stockings, but she keeps the rest of her clothes on.

And there is no doubt that it is proving to be a big draw, with producers quick to cash in by selling monogrammed towels as souvenirs.
Lord and Lady Webber
Lord and Lady Webber were among the audience
Last week, a spokesman for the production tried to play the nudity down.

He admitted: "Ticket sales did double. But it's not just because people now know she is naked in it.

"It's also because the word is out that it is a also a terribly good production."

But when Turner was interviewed she said: "Mrs Robinson's behaviour is shocking and it comes out of the blue."

See also:

31 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Here's to you, Ms Turner
04 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Golden Oldie prize for O'Toole
01 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Broadway springs into action
29 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Priestley sentenced to jail
29 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Turner nudity boosts ticket sales
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