Stage Right presents annual ‘Rocky Horror Show’ with a groovy twist
To baby boomers, this year’s edition of Stage Right’s “The Rocky Horror Show” will be a psychedelic trip down memory lane to the days of peace signs, tie-dye shirts and the “Summer of Love.”
Stage Right Artistic Director Tony Marino says it’s easy to see how “The Rocky Horror Show” lends itself to celebrating the 50th anniversary year of Woodstock.
“They’re both the expression of the counter-culture movement,” he says. “Without Woodstock and the cultural revolution of the late ’60s, there wouldn’t be a ‘Rocky Horror.’ The freedom of expression that happened at Woodstock gives birth to the glam rock movement in England that results in Rocky.”
Two stages, seven performances
Stage Right will offer performances of “Rocky” at 8 p.m. and midnight Oct. 25-26 at The Lamp Theatre in Irwin, and at 10 p.m. Oct. 31 and 8 p.m. and midnight Nov. 1 at Greensburg Garden and Civic Center.
In Richard O’Brien’s 1973 rock musical, Brad (played by Jason Swauger of Beaver) and Janet (Layne Ashton Bailey of Wexford), become stranded with a flat tire during a storm and seek help at the eerie mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Jason Shavers of Pittsburgh).
There they meet a houseful of wild characters that have come to see the doctor unveil his latest “perfect” creation, Rocky (Anthony Marino of Greensburg).
“The idea behind ‘Rocky’ is that Frank is throwing a party where the guests are traditionally dressed up,” the director says. “At this party they’re dressed as some of your favorite rock stars dead and alive from that time period. Audiences are encouraged to do the same.”
Bailey says she’s always loved the movie version and is having fun with the nod to Woodstock in her third production of the show.
“I like the way Stage Right incorporates new themes every year because it gives it a new edge every time,” she says. “It allows me to be more creative and to really dive into the world we’ve created. I love the juxtaposition of the sex and angst in ‘Rocky’ paired with the relaxed, chill nature of Woodstock.”
She has played Eva Peron in “Evita” for The Strand Theatre, Ellie Blake in “Freaky Friday” with Center Theatre Players, Inga in “Young Frankenstein” with The Theatre Factory and Edwin Drood in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” with Center Theatre Players.
Frank-N-Furter has been a dream role for Shavers ever since he first saw the movie.
‘Rock stars’ wanted
“I love the fact that Frank’s world is going to be populated by dead rock stars,” he says. “The ensemble will be dressed as rock stars we’ve all loved and lost and audience members are being encouraged to dress as their favorite dead rock star as well. I can’t wait to see what people will look like.”
Getting into his character means getting into heels, which Shavers says has been his first big challenge. “They’re gigantic,” he says. “Luckily I’ve been able to work in them starting from the first day of rehearsal. My next big challenge is allowing myself to be as free and confident as Frank. He’s otherworldly and I’m a mere mortal. This has been a fun challenge, though, and I’m learning a lot from this character.”
His recent stage credits include Adam in Stage Right’s Guinness World Record-breaking production of “Children of Eden,” Donkey in Stage Right’s “Shrek.” He also appeared in “Perfect Wedding” and “Game On” with Pittsburgh CLO Cabaret.
Stage Right veterans Greg Kerestan and John Noble, both of Greensburg, are taking turns in the role of Narrator.
For Noble, the best part of his role is the “reactive interaction” that has evolved over 16 years.
Ad-libbing or “out-shout backing” the audience “shout back” has become the nightly Narrator improvisational challenge, he says, since every audience is different and “over time, it’s actually become a ‘Game of Insults’ — with the collective audience members trying to “stump” the Narrator. It’s laugh-out-loud mayhem.”
Kerestan says the best part of doing his role is that he gets to be on the other end of a process he’s been involved in for years. Between 16 years of musical direction, fine-tuning the staging and the gags, and even recurring bits of choreography, the show has something no other show in local theater really has, he says: continuity.
His main advice to theatergoers: “Don’t bring little kids to the show! It’s all in good fun, but this is a racy, R-rated production.”
The cast also features Renata Marino of Greensburg as Columbia, Courtney Harkins of Penn Trafford (Magenta), Nick Lenz of Jeannette (Riff Raff), and Director Tony Marino of Greensburg (Eddie/Dr. Scott).
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.