By Mckennon Griffin
For the second semester in a row, Barton’s theatre squad reenacted the controversial and critically acclaimed “Rocky Horror Show.”
Last week marked the 40th anniversary of the “Rocky Horror Show” debut on Broadway, according to Adam Twiss, director of Theatre at Barton College.
It was dark, cold, raining and the perfect night for the return of “Rocky Horror Show,” which was directed by Barton Artist-in-Residence Sherry Lee Allen.
Before starting the return performances of the show on Oct. 2-3 in the Kennedy Family Theater, Twiss expressed his gratitude to the Barton community and directed a special acknowledgement to Barton College President Douglas N. Searcy. As a token of appreciation, Searcy was handed a special t-shirt to commemorate the event.
“We almost got all of the cast back,” said Twiss, before the show started. When the lights came on, the band raised the temperature with up-beat instrumentals.
Students, faculty and community members rushed through the rain and thunder into the theatre to see the first showing. Once inside fans were met by a barrage of fishnets and black eyeliner, leading some less informed viewers to speculate if they were in the right place. After the initial cultural shock, audience members slowly found their way to their seats.
Some patrons couldn’t hold their excitement and began throwing what appeared to be paper at Twiss while onstage.
In this play however, throwing and yelling during the performance is encouraged. Freshman Daria Avram, a phantom in the play, said, “I actually expected the crowd to shoot water guns and interrupt more.”
Once the show continued, the scene was set in an old abandoned road on a stormy night. Looking around the room, the spectators found this setting eerily familiar with the thunder echoing from outside the theatre.
“They barely needed sound effects to set the scene,” said audience member Rafael Ruez. “It really helped set the mood, I almost felt a part of the show.
“All the sexual nuances and flamboyant dance moves would have been weird if it wasn’t for the live band,” Ruez said. The band, made up of Barton faculty members Phil Vilera and Mark Peterson plus others, were located above the audience, giving a sound that surrounded the audience.
Ruez found himself surrounded by other faculty members in the stands who were dancing during the performance.
“They just got so into the music and just started sliding to the left and pelvic thrusting behind me! I didn’t know what to do,” he said with a laugh. Ruez said he had gone to the midnight performance last year, but didn’t expect the kind of crowd for the first show.
“A lot of work goes into making a production of this size that people may not realize,” said Avram. In one scene, Dr. Scott, played by Barton senior Flecher Duke, drove a real Harley Davidson onto the stage.
The production also had an elevator built in the middle of the stage that was used several times.
In addition to the construction and placement of these props, actors practiced for, “four to five hours every day,” Avram said.
As the show came to a close, the crowd was invited on stage to dance with the cast. Everyone in the theatre performed the “Time Warp” song and dance, doing everything. Stepping to the left, sliding to the right, putting their hands on their hips and even bringing the knees in tight. The stage was so packed that audience members were dancing in the front row.
Once the show came to a close, the applause was enough to show that this year’s showing was a big success. Cast members bowed, holding hands as the crowd stood applauding.
Joining the Barton faculty in 2009, Twiss has experience from working around the country as a professional actor, director, producer and educator.
He participated sporadically throughout the play as the narrator. Outside of Barton, Twiss has worked with Broadway veterans, Lauren Kennedy and Alan Campbell, at Theatre Raleigh.
The original musical, which was created in London by Jim Sharman in 1973, has been nominated and won several awards.
However, the show faced criticism and got shut down in 2011, according to the “Huffington Post.”
The project was initially approved and scheduled to take place at the Atlanta Plaza Theatre in Georgia. Still, production got shut down after Mayor Wayne Garner saw a video of the rehearsal.
The “Rocky Horror Show” is described as a play that “crosses generational boundaries (a few other boundaries as well); characters are bold, iconic, and dangerous; the music is dynamic and contagious,” by the Barton College website. The Kennedy Family Theatre was, as usual, the venue for Barton’s production. It has previously featured other Broadway classics such as “Crimes of the Heart” and “Romeo and Juliet.”
The storyline encompasses a couple experiencing car troubles and ending up at a mad scientist’s castle. The transvestite scientist, played by Newlin Parker, is just about to give life to his muscular creation when the couple arrives at his doorstep.
Several lengthy musical performances were delivered, mainly featuring Barton students Courtney Perez and Allison Dellinger.
“The plot of the show is great. The most appealing details of the show were musical effects,” said Smiljana Klajic, junior at Barton College. This was Klajic’s second time watching the show, she saw it last semester as well. “I never expected such a good show,” Klajic said.
There were two, somewhat different, versions of the show. Throughout history, various productions of the “Rocky Horror Show” has been involving the audience in the show. In the first one, playing at 7:30, cast members were shouting comments as the show went on, adding an additional comical element besides the script.
During the midnight show, however, the audience was participating in commentating as well.
“The audience was great,” Dellinger said. The cast, most notably Shane O’Daniel, engaged the audience as they were co-actors. O’Daniel gave life to the scientist’s creation and danced around bare chested.
“The show was far more entertaining, than crazy and weird as people had told me it was,” said Brennan O’Connor, a senior psychology major. Before coming to the show, he had heard it was strange. O’Connor’s attendance was mandatory as part of a class. However, he does not regret going. “The show made me laugh, something I didn’t anticipate,” O’Connor said.
Jens Madsen Hordvik, Barton sophomore, continued praising the performance after the massive round of applause that marked the ending. “I’m not normally big on shows, but I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend everyone to see it,” Hordvik said.