Stay sane inside insanity, rose tint your world, and get set to do the Time Warp again. Because hot patootie, bless my soul, Bainbridge Performing Arts is bringing to life the cult classic “Rocky Horror Show,” stage progenitor of the similarly titled film, just in time to celebrate the spookiest, sexiest, most theatrical holiday on the calendar.
A lovingly humorous tribute to the genre B-movies of the 1930s through the early ’60s, the musical tells the story of a newly engaged couple getting caught in a storm and coming to the remote stately home of a mad bisexual transvestite scientist, Dr. Frank N. Furter, on the same night he unveils his new creation, a Frankenstein-esque monster that’s an artificially made, fully grown, physically perfect man named Rocky.
Scheming servants, at least one murderous breakup, sexual awakenings aplenty, rocking tunes — and an against-all-odds immortal cultural touchstone — ensue.
The show runs Friday, Oct. 11 through Sunday, Oct. 27, with evening shows at 7:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and one matinee at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13.
The run includes a special pay-what-you-can preview at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10 and the opening night reception is 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11.
Tickets, $29 for adults, $24 for seniors, students, youth, military, and teachers, may be purchased online at www.bainbridgeperformingarts.org, by phone at 206-842-8569, or in person at BPA (200 Madison Ave. North).
Box office hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and one hour prior to each performance.
It’s something of a homecoming for director Joanna Hardie, who last helmed BPA’s “Xanadu.” Back in 2010, “Rocky” was her first show ever with the island outfit, as choreographer.
“Before that I had seen the movie when I was a kid and stuff,” she said. “I totally went to see it with older theater teens when I was a younger teen; it feels very edgy.
“It’s just a really fun show,” she added. “The music is so fun and the characters and you can kind of do a lot of different things with it.”
Needless to say, a lot has changed since 2010, let alone when Tim Curry first slipped into that now-iconic costume and threw wide the doors of perception for young Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick. Can one even say “transvestite” anymore? The media reference guide produced by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation says it’s offensive — and that’s not the only aspect of the movie that hasn’t aged particularly well.
Yet, the story remains passionately beloved.
“I think there’s a huge nostalgia factor with this show,” Hardie said. “What we’re trying to do is sort of have Frank N. Furter become more human as the humans who have come under his power are getting more liberated. And so hopefully they’re meeting each other in the middle and finding an understanding.”
While many on the cast have long enjoyed the film, for some it took seeing the story on stage to make them fans. BPA staple player Joey Chapman, who shimmies into some pretty tiny gold shorts to portray the titular muscleman Rocky, is one such example.
“We all kind of had our moments where we talked about it and [when] we saw it, and it’s pretty much just historically [that] you were a theater geek in high school and went to a party and it was on TV, and walking in and [being] extremely confused about what you were seeing on TV, let alone confused in your own life at that time,” he said.
“I was much more [into] the sugary sweet musicals growing up, and this was clearly not that. Until I saw it live on stage, not just the movie, and that whole new element … was just super fun. It’s crazy for the audience and for the actors at the same time.”
The interactive nature of the phenomenon the film has become is, of course, half the appeal for many. And BPA is encouraging that, to an extent. Bring your props, shout out your talk-backs — but please don’t throw anything on stage.
“I think people love to be involved, to feel like it’s not a passive experience but instead you can be active,” the director said. “We’re going to have some little props that people can either purchase, like in a little goody bag, or I’m sure people will know to bring certain things that they can hold up.”
Perhaps no character deals more directly with the audience than the coy, omniscient narrator, played by returning BPA fave Andrea Ogg.
“It’s the role I was born to play because she’s the know-it-all,” Ogg said. “She’s the only one out here who knows everything that has happened and everything that will happen. And so it’s her role to sort of keep the audience focused and moving through this arc of a storyline, which admittedly can be maybe a hard storyline for some people to follow.”
Ogg (who survived heart-transplant surgery just last year and made her triumphant return to the stage in “Mamma Mia!”) admits to having first enjoyed the film in her formative years, but only just investigated the stage version upon hearing of BPA’s auditions.
She was not disappointed.
“I don’t know if it’s sort of the campiness of it married to the [shocking] material, and maybe the fact that some if it hasn’t aged well,” she said of the show’s continued appeal. “There is just something.”
Something that does not dissipate with age, apparently. Ogg recalled her parents, who live in Texas, were particularly excited to hear about her involvement in their own favorite musical.
“My mother was asking me about this yesterday,” Ogg recalled. “She’s 79 and lives in a retirement community, and several couples that they know in the community are super into ‘Rocky Horror.’ They go every year and do the props and get dressed up and stuff, which I thought was just amazing. And she said, ‘What do you call that?’ And I said, ‘Like a cult fave? A cult classic?’ And she said, ‘Yeah!’”
The production’s musical director is Will Sanders, and Alex Ung is the choreographer.
Dr. Frank N. Furter is played by Adam Minton, who leads a cast of new and familiar faces, including Mikaela Karter (Janet), Brandon Weglin (Brad), Ellen Dessler Smith (Magenta), David Hardie (Riff Raff), Gabrielle Mehlman (Columbia), Rachel Brinn (who plays both Eddie and Dr. Scott), and also Matthew Manguso, Alex Sanso, Philippa Myler, Laura Sposato, E Cady.
All agreed the relatively small cast had come together very well in a brief amount of rehearsal.
“From day one we’ve bonded and I think we’re going to put on a really good show,” Chapman said. “What’s nice about playing Rocky is he’s not that bright so I don’t have very many lines I have to memorize. I just get to stand and let everybody else do the work around me.”
Of course, he’s not exactly kicking back, not with that costume to fit into.
“As soon as I got the message from Joanna it was straight to MyFitnessPal app on the phone and it’s just been calorie counting for the last two months,” he said. “Cleary, I’ve been in many shows here where I’ve had very little on, ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,’ that was not much, and ‘Mamma Mia!’ as well, but this is the most — or the least, the very least.”
Ogg opined the seemingly dangerous nature of the story, and the unpredictability of audience interaction, makes the show ideal for community theater, where personalization and new takes on cherished classics are more often risked.
“Our audiences here have every reason to go into Seattle for their entertainment, so we want to give them something really great here, a reason to stay and to see a community theater production instead of getting on a boat and taking it to Seattle, where you might see a touring production,” she said.
“It’s really incumbent upon us to give them something special. I live in Poulsbo so it’s like my accountant and dentist and nail tech and whoever that are coming to see the show, so I take a lot of pride in it and I think that people will be really pleased with the choreography that Alex has put in the show. I think it adds a lot.”