Dr. Frank N. Furter and the rest of the ‘Rocky Horror’ gang take the stage at Theatre VCU 10/30
Bring on the fabulous singing, fierce dancing, crazy antics and one sweet transvestite because The Rocky Horror Picture Show is making its magnificent debut at VCU this weekend. TheatreVCU has chosen Richard O’Brien’s classic satire of science fiction and horror for its spring musical.
Rocky Horror was first produced as a stage musical in 1973, and was adapted for the big screen in 1975. That version, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, continues to play in movie theatres around the country, imitated by many theatres theaters, and worshipped by people everywhere.
The undeniable popularity of the show is what drew most of the students in. Carmen Wiley, a junior performance major, is playing the Usherette and is the understudy for Magenta.
“Everyone was hyping it up[…] I love the show and the music so much- I knew I wanted to be a part of it in some way,” Wiley said.
Considering TheatreVCU is educational theatre, students are expected to at least attempt to participate in the shows, regardless of what faculty has chosen. Naturally, that does not always go over well. With the choice of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, however, students with varying levels of knowledge on the show came out and we’re excited to be a part of the production.
Jahred King, junior performance major, landed the role of Rocky Horror, Dr. Frank N. Furter’s creation. Going in, King had minimal knowledge of the show, but knew he wanted to be involved so he did his best to break out his study tools.
“I studied up on the genre of the musical and what is was based off of, and rock music in general,” King said.
Adversely, Jenna Kraynak, senior performance major, who snagged the lead role of Janet Weiss, was very familiar with the show and had her heart set on the role.
A positive reoccurring theme in this production is honesty. The show is unarguably outlandish, but the actors have been pushed to find the truth in their roles and to be as real with the audience as possible.
“It’s hard because the show is so funny and so crazy to not play into the style too much,” Kraynak said. “[It’s hard] to find the balance. It’s absurd, but there’s a truth to it. You have to be honest, and sometimes that’s the funniest choice,” Krayak added.
Graduate student Matt Ferrell landed the coveted role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, and considering he has played the role twice before, he was undoubtedly prepared. The directorial choices, however, have made this show different than others that have been put on.
“We are approaching it not so much through the lens of the film, and we are not basing the characters on the film,” Ferrell said. “Not being so influenced by the film has changed things in a big way.”
Director and choreographer Rebecca Frost-Mayer said the script was written before the show became a movie, which is why her version proves to be a little different from what people may expect.
Despite having students play these outrageous people, Mayer expected the cast to look past the words on the script and find the humanity in the characters.
Kraynak found this aspect of the show to be the most refreshing.
“My favorite has been bringing something new and personal to this role that people haven’t seen.” she said.
“You don’t get to see a lot of average people celebrate their lives,” the actress said. “But I get to stand on stage and be like, ‘Look! This is okay- this [show] is about this goofy, chubby, quirky girl discovering her sexuality. Everyone deserves to be sexually charged and celebrate that.”
The media is filled with portrayals of unattainable characters with picture perfect existences, and that is not what life is like. Because of these unrealistic standards, Kraynak has received criticism based on her appearance. She was relieved when the directors told her that was the opposite of the case this time.
“They told us from the beginning, ‘you’re not going to be in a lot of clothes, but do not feel like you have to change yourself because of it,’” Kraynak said. “The fact that they said, ‘We love you the way you are’ has been so liberating.”
The director and cast are hoping that the audience leaves the show with not only having had fun, but with a new acceptance of themselves.
Mayer said people love and can relate to rocky Horror because it’s all about “coming into your own.”
“It’s about being that part of yourself that doesn’t get to come out and play,” she added.
In true Rocky Horror fashion, there will be an opportunity for audience participation. Kits are going to be sold with the classic ‘shadow cast’ items such as newspaper. In addition to participating in the show, the cast, especially Matt Ferrell is looking forward to the audience appreciating the characters for who they are.
“I think they’ll get the story,” Ferrell said. “I think they’ll be surprised that there is actually a story going on underneath all of that. “The characters have arcs and emotional lives.”
Mayer said, “Be ready to see the Rocky Horror you know and love, with a few surprises.”
TheatreVCU’s The Rocky Horror Show runs from October 30th- November 15th. Tickets are currently on sale here or at the box office in the Raymond Hodges theatre in the Singleton Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $25 for general admission or $10 for students.
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