As I sat next to Paul’s youngest sister, Emily, during the annual live performance of Rocky Horror by Stage Right, I thought, “Oh, God, it was a terrible idea to bring her.” She’d never seen the movie, aside from a few clips, and as the barrage of crude jokes and audience participation started, I thought we’d thrown her into something that was so different from her conservative upbringing and so over-the-top that she was destined to hate it and be uncomfortable, even though we went to the early show because we knew midnight was just gonna be too much. Also, we’re adults who are used to going to bed at 9:30, and midnight is a struggle for us.
Part of the reason we invited her along was because it was just minutes from where she’s going to school, and it was an obvious excuse to hang out with her. It’s funny because she was really, really quiet when Paul and I first started dating–and she was like 13 and I was newly 21–and she’s gradually turned into the sibling of his I spend the most time with and open up to the most easily. We’ve brought her along a couple of times when we’ve gone out, and she’s a pretty obvious choice to tag along because she, Paul, and I probably have the most in common and the most overlapping interests out of everyone in the family. So we picked her up at started the night with dinner at Primanti’s. As much as it’s a local staple, she’s never been there before. It’s probably one of many Greensburg restaurants we’ll take her to over the next few years she’s in college.
As for Rocky Horror, I go every year. I’ve only missed maybe one or two shows since I was about 15 or 16, and remember, kids, I’m 27 now. So at this point, it’s very, very familiar, and I’m used to seeing most of the same cast every year. But this year brought one pretty big change–the narrator’s been played by the same guy all these years, and suddenly this year, they had someone new. Sure, it was another familiar cast member who I’ve seen in the show over the past few years, but it was kind of shocking to see someone else take it over. That said, he did a pretty great job. I mean, assuming he watched what the previous actor did, he learned from one of the best.
Other familiar faces included Columbia–my personal favorites–and Riff Raff and Eddie/Dr. Scott, all wonderful as always.
Frank-N-Furter tends to change every year. Sure, there have been a few repeat performances, but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen the same Frank more than twice, and there have even been some Franks, I think, who took the role a couple years apart as opposed to consecutively. When I first started going, I wanted basically a Tim Curry impersonator, and honestly, I think that’s what most people want when they see Rocky Horror live onstage for the first time. But over the years, I’ve really come to appreciate it when actors aim less for sounding and acting like Curry and aiming more for the own interpretation of the character–although I will say that my favorite Franks have been ones with a lot of sass and attitude. This year brought a new Frank, of course, and I have to say, he easily falls high on the list of the best ones I’ve seen.
Now, one of the things Stage Right’s done with the show these past few years is introduce a theme. I’m not sure exactly when this decision was made or why, but it’s added this element to it that makes things funnier and more interesting. Like I said, I’m not sure what the actual intent was, but for me, it’s kept it from making the show too predictable. I don’t know that people who faithfully go see Rocky Horror every year could ever say they get bored by it, but when it’s the only show Stage Right does every single year, it could easily become a little bit stale a predictable, even with the creative audience participation I’ve heard over the years.
This year’s theme was Disney, and when I first heard that, I thought, “This is going to be a shitshow.” And I mean that in a very loving, enthusiastic way. I mean, you’re taking characters from children’s movies and inserting them into a musical about sex, essentially. The whole thing was bound to be irreverent, and that was established almost immediately–Columbia opened the show dressed as Tinkerbell, and the ensemble followed dressed as various Disney princesses and other characters. The best, though, was an Olaf from Frozen with a white shirt and tiny silver sequined shorts who violently bit a carrot and spit it into the audience. Other highlights include princesses making out onstage and princesses with dildos, and my other personal favorite, Frank-N-Furter making his entrance dressed as Maleficent. The theme also allowed them to play with the audience participation a bit. The narrator was Walt Disney, complete with a Mickey Mouse puppet, which they used as a sort of ventriloquist act to get in some jokes, like some of the well-known callback lines and even a joke about the previous narrator being better.
Basically, the whole thing ruined Disney forever, and it was hilarious.
The rest of it was typical Rocky Horror. I wore questionable wardrobe, I shouted myself hoarse, I ended up with rice in my hair that I was still finding the next day, and I had a great time. I sometimes forget how much fun I have at that. Whoever cleaned up all that rice, though, surely does not feel the same.
As for Emily, as soon as it was over, she said, “I didn’t know I needed that in my life until now.” And so with that, we agreed that next year, midnight showing it is.