POSTED ON OCTOBER 18, 2006:
Are You a Virgin or a Slut?
Either way, Rocky Horror provides a cherry poppin' good time
ItŐs Hard Work Having Fun. But this transsexual transvestite makes it look easy. Chad Oliverson delights and appalls as Rocky HorrorŐs Dr. Frank-N-Furter.
Feeling undersexed lately? Or worse---not sexed at all? Chances are, you haven't yet been to the Rocky Horror Show at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. The reprisal of last year's hit performance, which opened last weekend, will continue for the next two weeks, providing plenty of opportunities to send your libido into overdrive.
Rocky Horror is as sexy as it is sexual. And it offers opportunities for both its cast and audience to explore parts of themselves they perhaps have never dared discover before.
By now, most people know the story line, though probably not from its stage roots. Richard O'Brien wrote The Rocky Horror Show, and it first debuted in London in 1973, then in Los Angeles in 1974. Critics trashed the sequin-spangled rock musical, and it wasn't until the 1975 release of the film adaptation of the play that it began to garner the cult following it's now known for.
In the story, the young, virginal, soon to be married Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, on the way to visit their friend, Dr. Everett Von Scott, fall victim to a flat tire. It's storming outside, but they see a light in the distance---an old castle where they hope to find a telephone.
Once they enter the castle, however, it's not so much a phone they find as it is aliens from the planet Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania who are more than happy to help with "anything they need." They seem to specialize, however, in sexual enlightenment.
The "king of the castle," if you will, the one character audiences who are less familiar with Rocky will recognize, is Dr. Frank-N-Furter, played by Chad Oliverson in this version but originally created by Tim Curry who carried the role from the London stage to Los Angeles and Broadway and finally to the silver screen.
Of re-creating his role for Tulsa audiences, Oliverson said Frank is mostly modeled after Curry's formula, but with a little bit of his own color and imagination thrown in here and there.
"Frank has a formula, created by the man who gave birth to the role, Tim Curry, and that must not be ignored," said Oliverson. "I give many nods to him and model much of what I do or say on his Frank. I never do this with any other role, but it would be a mistake not to do that with Frank. The audience wants that, and that is why we are doing this."
There are other advantages to playing Frank, though, which Oliverson has learned in playing the character for two years now.
"I try to find that human side of Frank and also let myself do and say and do every self-indulgent thing I have ever wanted to say or do, be as big of a kid as I have ever wanted to be," Oliverson said.
And audiences are encouraged to do the same. After all, that's what Rocky is all about---depravity, maybe, but mostly total, uncontrollable self-indulgence. And the freedom to allow oneself to wallow in everything sinful unapologetically, as Brad and Janet learn to do.
Oliverson said the other key to playing Frank is to humanize him, to find something audiences can love about him. And he does. His Frank is Tim Curry with an Okie twang. His Frank is selfish, vengeful and sexual, but he's also funny, charming, unabashed and totally sexy.
The other characters are the same, and the actors who play them do terrific jobs of meeting their roles halfway between alien and human.
Randy Chronister and Carmen Garrison stand out as Brad and Janet, respectively, and are both innocent and exploring, nervous but curious. Todd Hanlin as Riff Raff and Samantha Barrios as Magenta also impress. And Bob Odle as the Criminologist narrator takes the audience's jeers with the best of them.
Also notable are Jerry West, as the Music Director, and Director Randy Blair. Though audiences can expect traditional Rocky in that the script and songs have been virtually untouched, the show has really been re-vamped by way of the sound of the music and the set and costuming.
This Rocky is more rock'n'roll and even sexier than ever before. Oliverson said Blair has created a Glam Rock look with an S&M twist, true to the original intent of the show, but taking it just a step further.
Four of the actors, Oliverson, Garrison, Hanlin and Michael Irwin (Rocky) have reprised their roles from last year, when the cast was caught off guard by the overwhelming popularity of the show.
"The success of the show last year caught us all off guard," Oliverson said. "We knew that Rocky followers would come, and a few folks would come because it is such a great show for this time of year, but nobody expected the crowds at the stage door or just how much the crowd would scream, cheer and join in. The audience became as big as the show."
And that's the trademark of Rocky live. I don't want to ruin it for you if you've never seen it (Virgin. And I've been told seeing the film doesn't count---you're still a virgin.), but the audience will make you laugh almost as much as the actors on stage will.
Hardcore Rocky fans (sluts) will know the jeers intended to follow each of the actors' lines, but if you're new at this, the only thing you really need to know is every time someone says the name "Brad," it is your responsibility to yell, "Asshole!" And every time you hear "Janet," yell "Slut!" And how to do the Time Warp, of course.
Garrison said at one Saturday night performance, the audience yelled "Slut!" literally every time her name was spoken.
"I didn't know if I'd be able to start my song," she said.
And Irwin, portrayer of Frank's re-created human man-toy Rocky, said at the same performance audience members threw rice on the stage, though they're asked not to.
But both actors agree that audience involvement is one of the reasons Rocky is so appealing. It's a rare experience where both the actors and the audience get to play together in one, big multi-sensory orgy.
Don't let that scare you, though---Rocky is fun, funny and exciting. And it's definitely something you have to see at least once in your life. You don't want to be known as the last virgin in Tulsa, do you?
And it's not all about sex. It's also about being comfortable in your own skin, indulging the more reckless, carefree parts of yourself rather than ignoring them and having a good time.
The Rocky Horror Show continues its three-week run this Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm in the John H. Williams Theater of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, 112 E. 2nd St. The show will also run next week, Thursday Oct. 26, Friday, Oct. 27 and Saturday, Oct. 28 at 8pm.
Tickets are $20 to $24, with discounts available for students, seniors and groups of 10 or more. Tickets are available for purchase online at www.myticketoffice.com, by calling 596-7111 or at the PAC box office.
The show is brought to you, in part, by your own Urban Tulsa Weekly (you know we had to get involved with something this sexually pleasure-seeking).
So leave the rice, toast and water guns at home, use your cell phone as a lighter and don't forget to do the Time Warp. And if you don't know what I mean, don't worry, you will.
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