Southern Coalition for the Arts is gearing up to do the “Time Warp” again and again.
The local theater group is heading to Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s spooky castle for “The Rocky Horror Show.” Richard O’Brien’s gender-bending spoof of horror and science fiction B-movies will be performed Friday and Saturday, July 15-16, July 22-23 and July 29-30, at the Savas Kostas Performing Arts Center on the Logan campus of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College.
Approaching its 50th anniversary, “Rocky Horror” has reached cult classic status as both a play and film, with an “R” rating for strong language, adult themes and sexual innuendos.
“The Rocky Horror Show” premiered onstage in London’s Royal Court Theatre in 1973 and leaped movie houses two years later with the release of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” starring Tim Curry as Frank-N-Furter, Susan Sarandon as Janet Weiss and Meat Loaf as Eddie. Thanks to midnight screenings — where audience members would shout back to the screen or act out scenes — the movie has become one of the top-grossing musicals of all time.
In the show, young innocents Brad Majors and Janet Weiss go off to visit a former science tutor when their car gets a flat tire on a deserted road. Looking for help, they end up at the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, who’s throwing a party to unveil his evil Frankenstein-like creation.
“‘Rocky Horror’ is very unique and special because of its openness,” said co-director Rachel Noe-Maynard, who earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Marshall University. “It throws off binary gender roles, and it has this very ‘be yourself no matter what’ message. ‘Don’t dream it, be it’ is the main theme of the show.
“It has always attracted people who maybe feel a little bit left out,” she said. “You see these new generations that keep finding the musical, and especially this generation that is just so lovely and open with who they are. It speaks to them.”
The play is the first musical from the Arts since COVID-19 hit.
“The pandemic just shut us down. We wanted to come back in a big way,” said co-director Leah Clay-Stone, who earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Marshall University. She plays the Narrator, is the show’s technical guru and also handles the business side of the production. “You can’t get bigger or bolder than ‘Rocky Horror’ as a comeback show.”
Noe-Maynard says her connections to the local actors have helped with the production.
“These folks are beyond talented. This is probably one of the strongest and most diverse groups I have ever directed,” she said.
Michael Cline plays Dr. Frank-N-Furter in heels and a corset.
“Despite being this over-the-top character, he has so many real and human qualities and motives,” Cline said. “I think that’s why so many people have attached themselves to Frank and this show.”
Kennedy Shane Miller said she wanted to be in “Rocky Horror” because she felt the role of Janet, who goes from a frightened young woman to someone embracing her power and sexuality, would push her out of her comfort zone and help her grow as an actor.
“It’s an iconic, out-of-this-world show that’s hilarious and embraces who you are as a person,” Miller said. “Despite its insanity, the messages are very important to me.”
The music, which includes classics such as “Time Warp,” “Sweet Transvestite” and “Damn It, Janet,” is directed by Noe-Maynard. She also handles the choreography and plays Riff Raff in the show.
“I fell in love with the show as a teenager. It’s a fun-filled spectacle with one of the best soundtracks you’ll find anywhere,” Noe-Maynard said. “Audiences can expect a great night of fun, frivolity, surprises and entertainment.”
Marketing director for the show is Bill France, who also plays Eddie. France is director of communications at Southern.
Directors are encouraging audience members to show up dressed as their favorite characters. There are prizes each night for the best costume.
“Audience members are encouraged to call back to the stage during the show,” Clay-Stone said. “Every show is a little different, thanks to the ‘Rocky’ fans. You just never know what you are going to get. This show brings people out of the woodwork.”