By Daniella Cortez
The Rocky Horror Picture Show and I go way back. It’s one of my very favorite movies and has been since my weird kid teenage years. I can recite most of the lines without prompting and have been known to karaoke to the Time Warp just so I could do the dance. Yet in all the years I’ve been a fan I’ve never seen the stage production.
This week I interviewed Rj Haywood and Cameron Morrison, the producer and director of the local live theater production of the Rocky Horror Show. In order to do the article justice I obviously had to see a performance. In our print issue this week I talk a little about the show itself, the short version goes like this: boobs, booze and bitchy bartenders.
There’s more though, of course. The first thing I was struck by was the beautiful make up and costuming that went into this production. I stepped backstage before the show to take a few pictures of the cast getting ready and to say hi to Haywood and Morrison. The cast’s makeup was flawless; someone put serious time into updating the style of the film adaptation. Ditto the costumes. After I watched a corseted and barefoot Frank N. Furter (Joey Murphy) wrangle his coffee mug plus straw combo for a few seconds (which was hilarious in the same way that a newborn giraffe who can’t get it’s legs to work is funny) I returned to my seat and settled in for the show to begin.
If you’ve ever been in Mad Myrna’s ballroom you can probably visualize what I was seeing. The stage is there with its sparkle curtains and gold draping, a bar off to the left by the door and a raised sound booth (now in the back of the room instead of off to the side) and some seats. For the show there were rows of seats and a few bar tables in the back of the room. An aisle runs down the middle to the stage.
That’s it. There was no set. It’s the same stage that the Diva Variety Show and karaoke is on. Nothing more. When the show starts and the band begins to play it’s obvious that this production took blood, sweat and tears to get where it is now. If you’re familiar with Rocky Horror, you’ll immediately recognize the characters and where things are happening despite the lack of a set. If you’re not familiar with the movie or the Broadway stage production, here’s the great part: you’ll probably still recognize it. That’s how good the acting is. In the same way that a well-written book can transport you to a place mentally without needing it to be shown to you explicitly, the actors create the scenery for you. In one instance, they literally become the car that the main characters are driving.
There are some small variances from the film version, which is to be expected. This is not the film; this is the play that the film was based on. Moreover this production is small and is a labor of love. The acting is top notch and the audience participation makes this production have the same feel of revelry and delight that you would be hard-pressed to get at any other stage production. Columbia crawled into the lap of a lady sitting next to me and played patty cake with her boobs for a while until being called back to the stage. One of the Transylvians borrowed the bra of one of the ladies in the third row for most of the second half of the show. For some people these things may sound horrifying, but they really just add to whole over-the-top, camp theater thing Rocky Horror has been perfecting for almost 40 years.
I’d love to go scene for scene with you, telling you about all the moments that I grinned, giggled or guffawed. That does you, the potential audience member, a serious disservice though. Go see this production. Be prepared for half-naked bodies, an audience that yells things at the actors and a narrator who will probably yell back at the audience. Get yourself a stiff drink before the show and loosen up a bit. I’m sure you’re pretty groovy, but there are things that will happen in that theater that may shock your delicate sensitivities. That, in a nutshell, is what Rocky Horror is all about.
The playlist this week is just the soundtrack for The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It’s a good way to get in the mood for the stage production. Next week we’ll have an actual mix again.