Not that it was written in the audition pages, but any actor trying out for the role of Rocky in “Rocky Horror Show” must have known it included very small golden lame shorts.
And long with having acting chops to camp-up the scenes as a new-born creation, the actor would need to have chutzpah enough to stand in the aforementioned skimpiest of costume, (nightly) in front of hundreds of people.
“It’s a challenge,” laughed Matt Montgomery, a Vancouver-based actor who tackles the role with Kelowna Actors Studio in the much-loved cultish romp, “Rocky Horror.”
“It wasn’t on my radar as a role I wanted to pursue, but when it came up I said ‘Oh’ and then ‘Ok’ and it’s turned into a lot of fun.”
Almost everything about “Rocky Horror,” the stage play and the original campy, crazy movie, is about fun. Either poking it at the establishment, or just poking the bear to get a rise out of the audience.
And the audience is as much part of the fun on stage, as are the actors.
Some things have changed in the 40-plus years since Dr. Frank-N-Furter (played by Nate Flavel) first created his ultimate “playmate” in his laboratory in the bowels of his eerie mansion high on the hill.
Back-in-the-day, actors could fully expect a pelting of real toast, get sprinkled with water pistols, have rolls of toilet paper heaved on the set, have rice tossed with abandon at the wedding scene and hear the flicking of cigarette lighters to accompany the appropriate song.
But, times have changed, so toeing the line means the Kelowna Actors Studio will have “fun kits” on hand for the audience that include confetti, glow sticks and water pistols so everyone can get into the action. And proceeds go towards the Kelowna Actors Studio Academy to assist with tuition.
Director Randy Leslie said the show has been the “second most-requested” show in audience surveys, (right behind “The Sound of Music”) and is still “played at midnight every Friday and Saturday at theatres around the globe.”
So what’s the hype?
“It’s very campy, a deliberately kitschy rock ‘n roll sci-fi gothic musical and lots of fun for the audience with the cast having a non-stop party,” he added.
What’s the plot?
The original cult classic, with scarlet-lipped Tim Curry in the lead role, and a young Susan Sarandon as the milk-toast virginal Janet, hit a cord with movie/theatre-lovers straight off the mark.
Loosely following a zany half-baked storyline, the mad scientist/transvestite Dr. Frank-N-Furter, offers rain-soaked sweethearts Brad (Pete MacLeod) and Janet (Denise Dercksen), to stay the night at his mansion.
Once inside, they encounter a household of wild characters, and an equally silly idea where the good doc plans to create his own Frankenstein-ish play thing; except he’s ripped, blue-eyed, gorgeously naïve, scantily wrapped in gold mini-shorts.
“There’s a script, but with the audience encouraged to talk back to the performers, anything can happen,” noted Flavel, who’s happily attacking a re-do of his original role.
“We’ve added some things, it feels more polished, with new choreography, new surprises, three costume changes for me, and having a new Rocky changes up the characters even though we have a lot of the same cast,” he said.
A gentle warning to “Rocky Horror” neophytes: audience participation is de rigueur for this musical onslaught of frivolous, sexually charged antics.
Flavel is fully expecting the audience to be “gunning for” him in the traditional toilet paper toss, “When the line ‘great Scott’ comes up, people throw the rolls, but in all of the shows, with thousands of rolls thrown, not one hit me!” Flavel said.
“I’m expecting that to change this time around,” he added with a laugh. “I’m gonna be pelted.”
Montgomery is anticipating audible gasps and chortling when he emerges in his tightie-glossy-gilded-barely-there-shorts.
“You need confidence and there’s a lot of action for me without a lot of lines,” Montgomery added, “after all, I’m only seven hours old, and everything that happens around me, is very new to me.”
Besides antics, the show has a list of memorable lines and plenty of catchy tunes, like Damn It Janet, There’s a Light, Touch-a-Touch-a-Touch Me, I Can Make You a Man, Sweet Transvestite and the crowd pleaser—The Time Warp.
“Rocky Horror” has mature content, sexual themes and coarse language. It`s a little naughty, and a little riske, so be forewarned.
An anticipated more X-rated version is planned for Friday and Saturday late night performances, but only for the 18-plus age group, who might be tempted, and welcome, to come dressed up for the gala.
“Judging from the last time we did this, we could have easily done the late night show for our regular audiences, and gone even more riske with the Late Night audience,” Flavel added.
What to wear for Rocky?
Well, fish-net stockings, a garter or two, perhaps a pearl necklace, anything black, gold, tight and shiny.
And especially, an attitude for outlandish fun straight-outta-the-70s.