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Hardin County Playhouse hopes area residents will “come up to the lab and see what's on the slab,” just like the musical invitation offered in its production of “The Rocky Horror Show.”
The cult classic play will be presented at 7 p.m. today and 11 p.m. Saturday at Plum Alley Theater in the Historic State Theater complex.
“The Rocky Horror Show,” which debuted in London in 1973, was made into the film “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” which premiered in 1975 and often gets midnight showings.
“When something is cult, people love it for very individual reasons,” HCP artistic director Bo Cecil said.
The music, universal themes, archetypal characters and mature content are just some of the elements of the general appeal of the play, Cecil said.
The play, he said, is “not dissimilar from the film.”
“It really is an amalgamation of theater and rock concert,” Cecil said.
“The Rocky Horror Show” follows the plight of Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, who find themselves at a celebration hosted by an alien transvestite — a Dr. Frankenstein-style character named Frank ‘n’ Furter — as he unveils his creation, Rocky. The play intertwines elements of '30s and '40s cinema, science fiction, mature subject matter and rock ‘n’ roll, among other things.
“It relishes its cheesiness,” Cecil said.
During movie viewings audience members typically participate by bringing props for special responses to movie lines or scenes. For instance, rice is thrown by audience members during a wedding scene and squirt guns are employed during a storm scene.
While such props are not discouraged at the HCP production, Cecil said, the responses don’t generally mesh as well with the stage performance as they do with the film.
“It is different in a live setting,” he said.
Whether in play or film format, the production made an impact on cast members who recalled their first exposure to the film.
Andy Frueh, who plays Brad, said he was 16 when he first saw the movie at his home.
“I smuggled the tape of the movie waiting for my parents to leave so I could watch it,” Frueh recalled.
He didn’t like it.
It wasn’t until subsequent viewings he began to enjoy it, eventually making it part of a Christmas tradition.
Likewise, Jay Hemphill, who portrays Frank ‘n’ Furter, didn’t like the movie when he first viewed it about age 12 with a cousin.
Like Frueh, that initial impression changed over time.
“I spent my whole summer of my 16th year watching it,” Hemphill said.
Jacob Holbrook-Elkins, who portrays Rocky, was 3 or 4 when he first saw the movie, thanks to an aunt.
“She said, ‘If I’m going to baby-sit you, you’re going to have to learn to do The Time Warp,’” Holbrook-Elkins said, referring to a dance featured in a musical number in the show.
On the other hand, Meggan Heady, who plays Janet, was much less familiar with the film.
“When Bo sent me an email and asked me if I wanted to be a part of the show, I’d never seen it,” Heady said.
Without watching the movie or reading the script she agreed.
After reading the script and an initial response of “What the heck is this?” she decided it was a special opportunity.
“I thought it would be a good challenge,” Heady said. “I’m an elementary school teacher.”
Ron Blair, who plays the narrator, said he could not wait for the movie to come out on VHS when he was a high school senior in 1991. The movie made an impact.
“It did certainly sculpt the way I see things,” Blair said.
Blair cited the philosophy of “don’t dream it, be it,” which are lyrics in one of the numbers, as being the message the audience gets.
“Half of it is having the courage to act on it,” he said. “This play is about escaping that little box we create.”
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
IF YOU GO
The Hardin County Playhouse production of “The Rocky Horror Show” is at 7 p.m. today and 11 p.m. Saturday at Plum Alley Theater in the Historic State Theater complex. All tickets are $20 for general admission seating. For more information, call (270) 351-0577.
Though audience participation is not discouraged for the Hardin County Playhouse production of “The Rocky Horror Show,” the props and responses typically work better with the movie. Here is a list of some of the typical audience props and responses fans of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” have come to enjoy.
Response: Throw this as newlyweds exit the church during the opening wedding scene.
Response: Use it to cover your head when Brad and Janet are caught in the storm and Janet covers her head with a newspaper.
Prop: Water pistols.
Response: Simulate the rain by using these during the storm scene.
Prop: Flashlights, lights.
Response: Activate during the verse that begins “there’s a light” during the song “Over at the Frankenstein Place” which occurs during the storm scene.
Prop: Rubber gloves.
Response: Snap these during and after Frank’s creation speech to coincide with the three times he does this.
Response: Use after the creation speech along with applause when Transylvanians respond in like fashion.
Response: Throw at the end of the reprise of “I Can Make You a Man,” when wedding march plays.
Prop: Toilet paper.
Response: Hurl rolls, preferably Scott brand, into the air when Brad shouts “Great Scott!” as Dr. Scott enters the lab.
Response: Throw into the air when Frank proposes a toast at dinner.
Prop: Party hat.
Response: Don this during the dinner scene when Frank puts on his.
Response: Ring when Frank sings to Janet the line “Did you hear a bell ring?” during the “Planet Schmanet” song.
Response: Throw into the air when Frank sings “cards for sorrow, cards for pain” during the song “I’m Going Home.”