It was 16 years ago when Ed McClure directed a bare-bones version of “The Rocky Horror Show” for Ozark StageWorks. It had prerecorded music, a red and black set with borrowed restaurant chairs, slimy body parts in jars — and a cast of actors mostly never heard from again.
‘The Rocky Horror Show’
WHEN — 8 p.m. today & Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; again
Sept. 21-24 & Sept. 28-Oct. 1 WHERE — Arkansas Public
Theatre at the Victory in
downtown Rogers COST — $23-$35 INFO — 631-8988
Many of the stars of the current production of “The Rocky Horror Show” at Arkansas Public Theatre were in their early teens then and had never even heard of the movie, in spite of its voracious cult following since 1975. They’re finding things in the script McClure says he never dreamed existed, and they’re doing it with a full band, one-of-a-kind costumes created by Jenn McClory and all the technology that 2017 has to muster — including a projected thunderstorm, ray guns and a flying castle.
“It’s been interesting to work with a cast of folks in their 20s and 30s, because they have a unique perspective,” says McClure. “For two years of my life, I saw ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ every Friday and Saturday night [at the midnight movies]. That’s just what we did. But it has evolved. Producing it on stage is a balancing act — not unlike ‘The Sound of Music.’ The movie is so iconic, you can’t ignore it.”
Michael Myers, who wowed APT audiences as the Emcee in “Cabaret,” says “nothing can touch Tim Curry’s brilliance” as Dr. Frank N. Furter, mad scientist and transvestite. “I’ve done my research into how he conducted his character analysis and kind of captured what he was inspired by. He’s untouchable, but you can’t leave him behind when bringing Frank N. Furter to life because Tim Curry created this character.
“What I do is try to tap into this character’s soul. Frank knows this is probably his last night on earth, his last hurrah. So the whole night is filled with hilarity and insanity, but it’s all enticingly beautiful and compelling. He knows he’s going to die.”
Like Myers, Anna Knight and Cody Robinson were still appearing in “The Wedding Singer” when they were cast in “Rocky Horror.”
“We had the auditions Monday, the cast read-through on Tuesday, the first music rehearsal on Wednesday, then back to ‘The Wedding Singer’ Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” says Knight, who plays Magenta. “Then it was choreography Monday and Tuesday and back to ‘The Wedding Singer.’ But I’m a huge fan. I wouldn’t have missed this! There are so many great incarnations of Magenta — and I’m putting my signature Anna Knight spin on her.”
Robinson was playing the lead in “The Wedding Singer” when he was cast as Eddie and Dr. Scott.
“I catch myself singing ‘Grow Old With You’ [from ‘Wedding Singer’] backstage, then I have five ‘Rocky Horror’ songs stuck in my head every night,” he says. “Meat Loaf makes for some big shoes to fill!”
Caity Church is one of the actors who remembers that 2001 StageWorks production. She played Janet — and is playing the role again on the APT stage.
“It was an Ed show, and he’s always very put together, so that was the same,” she says. “But I have a better understanding of Janet as an adult — and I’ve come to the age I just don’t care [about being seen in my underwear]. But this show reminds people of their youth — those carefree days in college, when you didn’t have to worry about grownup stuff. At least it does for me.”
Jeremy Reid Stuthard is a newcomer to the APT stage as Brad — and he laughs when he says he auditioned for Frank N. Furter. Show director at C4 Nightclub in Fayetteville, “I moonlight as Taylor Madison Monroe,” a “gender illusionist,” he says. But he’s found his footing as Brad. “I’m trying to make him heroic,” he says. “I’m kind of inspired by Clark Kent.”
Matt Peoples is also an APT newcomer as Rocky, Frank N. Furter’s “creation.” He’s been co-hosting the Walton Arts Center screening of the film at Halloween, but he says he didn’t even know the show existed until he went off to college.
“I saw pieces of it on TV,” he says of his childhood in Snake Island, a little town north of Stuttgart. “My parents always changed the channel.”
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