News that Kathleen Turner appears completely nude in the new world premiere stage adaptation of The Graduate is causing a stir amongst both tabloid newspapers and theatregoers. The play - based on Mike Nichols' 1967 film and Charles Webb's novel about a young man who has an affair with an older woman and then falls in love with her daughter - officially opens at the West End's Gielgud Theatre next week. But previews for the show started on 24 March and audience members have, reportedly, been astounded by the infamous seduction scene.

In it, Turner, who makes her West End debut as Mrs Robinson, emerges from the off-stage bathroom clad only in a towel, which she quickly lets drop to play the remainder of the scene naked. In the Hollywood film, the nudity conundrum was averted by a glimpse of Anne Bancroft's bare legs and a quick camera cut-away. No such modesty for the stage adaptation.

Turner isn't, of course, the first actress to bare all in the West End. Most recently, in 1998, Nicole Kidman famously stripped off in Sam Mendes' production of David Hare's The Blue Room at the Donmar Warehouse, prompting one reviewer to declare it 'pure theatrical Viagra' and causing a huge sell-out rush for tickets. A spokesperson for The Graduate has confirmed that Turner's undressing has also significantly spurred advance ticket sales for the show.

Writer and director Terry Johnson claims that the decision was not made for publicity, however, but rather in an effort to remain true to the original material. 'Go back to the book and you find that a very holy film was made of it,' he said in an interview with The Guardian newspaper. 'It is very much there in the book.'

He added that it is media reporting that has overblown the significance of the scene. 'It's the media that has really fascinated me,' said Johnson. 'After two millennia, it is still news to be nude. I'm sure Jung would have something to say about it.'

Forty-five year old Turner is best known for her many steamy roles in Hollywood films such as Body Heat, Romancing the Stone, Peggy Sue Got Married and The War of the Roses. She is joined in the cast of The Graduate by Matthew Rhys as Benjamin Braddock (played by Dustin Hoffman in the film) and Kelly Reilly as daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross in the film).