BWW Interview: Jacob McKee of ROCKY HORROR SHOW at Warehouse Theatre
Dammit, Jacob! We love you!
But don't just take our word for it. Read his comments below and we're certain you'll love him, too -- and that you won't want to miss him on stage.
The show runs through September 22.
What was your experience with Rocky Horror prior to this production?
I first saw the film when I was in high school, maybe seven or eight years ago. Since then I've seen it a few times and saw a production of the stage version in Atlanta (where I'm based) last October. I've never been to one of the infamous midnight showings of it in a movie theater, though there's a theater in Atlanta called the Plaza which does them every Friday and I'm absolutely planning on going to one when I get back home.
What parts of this particular production really stand out for you?
Rocky Horror is a zany, wild, sometimes nonsensical thing, and I feel like our production has made a concerted effort to strip back some of the glitz and the glam to really find the heart of the story. Don't get me wrong -- there's still flashing lights and out-of-this-world costumes, but one thing I really feel like this production is strong on has been figuring out the journey of all these characters, and what their experiences can say about the world we live in today. Particularly, I think, in tracking the arc of characters like Frank-N-Furter, Brad, and Janet, I think there's a very powerful call to arms to really live life as truthfully as you can, and that being your true, honest self is always what we should be striving for.
What is your approach to your character and this material? That is, did you dig deep to really create a character or just kind of go with the flow?
To me, there's a certain responsibility to the overall story that I have to keep in mind. Jenna Tamiseia, our director, was very receptive in listening to what I had to say about where I thought Brad fit into the play's message and we were able to work together to craft something I think supports what we're trying to say with this particular production. I'm very passionate about confronting a sort of toxic kind of masculinity in our society that I think has infiltrated the minds of young men, and I think Brad is a big victim of that. I think at the beginning of the play, he is really trying very hard to fit into the mold of that man's man that's always there to protect his lady, always ready to fight the problem, and Jenna and I were very interested in seeing him absolutely fail at doing that, and then thriving when he realizes somewhere in the castle that he doesn't have to be that, doesn't have to do everything by himself, that there's people in his life that can truly be there for him and support him and allow him to be an emotional creature.
Paige Vasel, who plays Janet, has been the most excellent partner in the world in creating that journey, and I think does a remarkable job of sort of illustrating the opposite type of thing with Janet, where she really starts off the play in a submissive place and ends it as this incredibly independent character who has taken charge of herself in more ways than one, and who is really ready to step out of the castle and be a leader.
Why do you think this piece has become so well-loved?
For me, it was remarkable how easily I was able to find myself in it. I was by no means a super fan before we began this process, and was able to tap into something with Brad that I feel like I've experienced on my own journey for self-acceptance, and I think that's probably the case for everyone. The Rocky Horror Show and the film adaptation are both populated with a host of different, unique characters and that makes it really easy for people to see themselves in it. And people latch onto that.
As an added note, it strikes me as especially important to continue producing this play and plays like it in an age where theatres are striving more and more to cast diversely, and really reflect how the world looks; for all the value the film version has, it existed in an age where diverse casting wasn't nearly as important as it is today, and I applaud theatres like The Warehouse for taking this wild, crazy, zany story with a bunch of colorful characters and really working to make it reflective of the beautiful, diverse world we live in. It's important that we understand these characters are weird and gorgeous and just like everyone -- emphasis on everyone.
What's the audience response been like so far?
Greenville has been an absolute treat. I'm from Atlanta, and so it has been an absolutely wonderful experience to get to come up and experience this show in a town full of people that are so welcoming, and so loving, and who truly adore this material. They come into the show and sit in their premium seats and are so willing to get down and dirty and messy with us, and really go with us on a ride that's truly a roller-coaster.
They come in and know all the callbacks and when to throw "cards for sorrow" and when to put newspapers on their head, and then we get to walk into the lobby afterwards and they are just so loving and so supportive. It's been thrilling and so, so special to me to experience that.
The Rocky Horror Show by Richard K. O'Brien
PREMIUM CABARET STYLE SEATING AVAILABLE!
Directed by Jenna Tamisiea. Music direction by Janice Issa Wright.
Featuring Frank Humphrey, Maddie Tisdel, Jacob McKee, Paige Vasel, Jonathan Kilpatrick (A Little Night Music, The Rocky Horror Show 2015 & 2012), Clare Ruble (Spring Awakening), Rob Kahn, Casey Palmisano, Dave LaPage (Important Hats of the Twentieth Century, Les Liaisons Dangereuses), Giulia Dalbec (Richard III, Urinetown the Musical), Matt Groves, Hakwon Hawkins, and Kenzie Wynne (Spring Awakening).
Featuring designs by Brandon Roak (Scenic), Ida Bostian (Costumes), Tony Penna (Lights), Kurt Conway (Sound), and Cassidy Bowles (Properties).
Sponsored by Mansure & Co., Convergent Technologies, and Debra & Tom Strange.
For tickets and showtimes call the box office at 864-235-6948 or visitwarehousetheatre.com.