BWW Previews: THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW Celebrates Five Years at Theatre Baton Rouge
Let there be lips because the ROCKY HORROR SHOW is celebrating five years at Theatre Baton Rouge!
For those unfamiliar, ROCKY HORROR is a cult classic musical comedy reflective of horror B-movies of the 1970s. In the film, based on the 1973 stage production, sweethearts Brad and Janet are stuck with a flat tire during a storm. They find their way to the eerie mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a cross-dressing scientist. The couple is soon swept into the crazy world of Frank and his guests, a wild group of people at the mansion for the annual Transylvanian convention. The night is a raucous romp that includes dancing and singing, a murder and a chase scene or two.
This year's ROCKY HORROR director Brandon Guillory was TBR's very first Brad. The production holds a very special place in his heart as it was the first show he auditioned for that would lead to him learning the theatre experience and his future involvement as an actor with TBR.
"I was extremely nervous; I didn't eat anything before[hand]," Guillory said. "The audition went well, but then as soon as it was over, they were asking me questions about how to contact me and I like lost my balance and kind of lost consciousness for a second and fell down. It was traumatizing but a perfect Brad audition because I feel like Brad would have passed out."
Thanks to ROCKY HORROR's huge cult following that first year TBR saw the show sell out early in the production process.
"I think we were all really surprised by how quickly the community took to it," Guillory said. "That year, in particular, they announced tickets were on sale and we sold out before rehearsals had even started. To see the traction [ROCKY HORROR] has continued to have over the past five years has been great."
One of the ways the show has shown significant growth since it first began is through the show's production value, according to Guillory.
"The first year we did it we were working with very limited means," Guillory said. "It was added to the season as a fundraiser for the theatre and in that pilot year, we didn't know how much attention it was going to get. We did the whole thing with a bare set, a couple of set pieces, and very minimal costume changes. Then because the attention grew and the audience loves it, as it consistently sells out each year, we've been able to add a lot more production value to the show."
The production has seen different directors each year that create a vision of ROCKY HORROR. Over the years the different visions have played upon the camp, the sex, the mad science or the movie fans know and love.
"It's been fun to watch to see how each one put their spin on the show, but then also pay respect to the show we all know and love," Guillory said. "That's what people are coming to see, they have certain expectations when they see ROCKY HORROR, but it has been really fun to see the turns it has taken over the past five years."
Guillory's favorite experiences with watching ROCKY HORROR and being involved in the show include celebrating the mixture of camp and sex and making the two merge as well as possible. His vision as director for this year's production revisits the script, gives a few winks to the movie and plays up the camp found within the show.
"I find the show to be hilarious, and I think we've done it very well over the past few years but we're taking it a few steps further and trying to celebrate the true camp of it all," Guillory said. "It's such an outrageous show, we want to lean into that and make it a night people can enjoy when they come to see it."
The show consistently sees actors return to be involved as part of the cast, thus creating a fun sense of community that only a show like ROCKY HORROR can provide. This year, the part of Frank-N-Furter will be played by Donaldson who previously had worked on ROCKY HORROR as Riff-Raff.
"I've always loved ROCKY since I was a young teenager even though I should not have been watching it. That was my first show with TBR as well...I was hoping to be Frank-n-Furter and then they had me sing for Riff-Raff and when I sang Time Warp in the callback, everyone else who was called back for Riff-Raff sat down. So, I was kind of standing by myself at the piano like, 'Okay, I think I'm going to be Riff-Raff.'"
Donaldson would perform as Riff-Raff twice for TBR and then directed the show in 2017 through he did not initially expect to direct.
"It was something pitched to me that year...and I've always been such a ROCKY purist and saw the opportunity to direct for the theatre and I took," Donaldson said. "When I did that process, I fell in love with it even more just looking it from an overall picture and aesthetic. it reinvigorated my love for the other characters."
Playing the part of Frank was always a bucket list dream role for Donaldson, but he feels that now is the right time to give the Frank he's promised to everyone.
"It almost sort of feels like a perfect culmination of everything since I started ROCKY at TBR," Donaldson said. "I've been a part of it four of the five years it's been produced in different capacities, and I feel like everything happens in its time and I feel like I'm Frank at the perfect time."
THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW is rated "R," and runs now through October 26 with performances running at 8 p.m. along with an extra midnight performance on Oct. 26th. Individual tickets are $31, and student tickets are $20. Tickets are available online at TheatreBR.org or by calling the Theatre Baton Rouge box office at 22-924-6496.