The 70-minute show billed as a "sexy variety show" exclusively for women left many in the audience reeling from giddiness even after the curtain had gone down.
The sight of eight good-looking young men with ripped bodies ― six-packs, pecs, deltoids and biceps ― tearing off their shirts with abandon, pulling down their pants in the blink of an eye, and lap-dancing for women pulled on to the stage from the audience had the women, ranging in age from 20s to 60s, clapping wildly, squealing with delight, howling and yelling.
"The audience is usually rowdier than the crowd tonight," says Kolleen Park, the director of "Mr. Show," after taking a sip from a mug of Kirin draft beer during an interview with The Korea Herald on Thursday night. That evening's invitation-only staging had just ended.
Park had been thinking about putting on a sexy variety show featuring an all-male cast for a women-only audience for a long time ― she had written the script 12 years ago ― but the timing was not right, until now.
"Mr. Show" features eight separate episodes, each with a theme based on costumes. One episode features the men in white T-shirts and blue jeans while the final episode has them wearing shiny gold uniforms with aviator sunglasses.
"Costumes are a bit of someone's fantasy and they give guys a reason to take off their clothes," she explains.
"The idea is for women to have fun, go home and laugh about it," she explains. The absence of men makes it possible for the women to be themselves, without being anxious about what their boyfriends or husbands would think and having to act "properly."
"It alludes to the nakedness, sexuality. But it is very clean fun," she adds, dismissing concerns that the show may be lewd.
As there is only one professional actor in the group ― "the boys," as Park refers to them, include a model, personal trainer and body builder ― there were concerns initially whether they could be whipped into stage performers in just two months. However, the staff was moved to tears on the opening night, seeing how far the boys had come, Park recalls fondly. To achieve the look and the attitude, the performers rehearsed for 10 hours and hit the gym for three hours daily.
Parks admits to never reading media reports about her shows. "I could not be where I am today if I read them because I am so sensitive," she says. But she is aware of the reports. "I've heard many male reporters have negative views about 'Mr. Show.'"
Asked about her male fantasy ― after all, "Mr. Show" is about fulfilling women's male fantasies, according to the press release ― Park replies, "I don't think I have a fantasy. I find it attractive when men put everything into their work, showing dedication to what they are doing, showing their passion for it.
"The boys' dedication is such a turn-on," she adds.
What about the claim that the show answers women's fantasies? "These fantasies are based on 'research,' talking with girlfriends and life experiences," she explains.
Pressed further to put a face on her fantasy man, she blurts out a completely unexpected name: "Peter O'Toole is the love of my life, has been always," she says. Best known here for his role in "Lawrence of Arabia," O'Toole died last year.