POSTED ON OCTOBER 27, 2010:
Big Show of Horrors
New venue, new setting, but same fun-filled performance of Rocky Horror
A Good Show. “I think I can safely say, from my time doing professional theater, this harkens to that,” actor Chad Oliverson said. “This has been professional from day one. This has been such a gift to me personally.”
No matter how hard he tries, Chad Oliverson just can't retire. He's been threatening to hang up his six-inch platforms since 2005, when he first took on the role of Dr. Frank N. Furter for American Theatre Company's The Rocky Horror Show, but, every year, he continues to strap on the spandex and knee-high boots -- much to the delight of local audiences.
ATC let go of the rock musical two years ago, and last year's A Rocky Halloween was produced by Garage Media. This year, Garage Media teamed up with Tulsa Project Theatre and The Joint, the newest venue at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, to produce The Rocky Horror Show. And, of course, Oliverson will reprise the role of Frank.
"For me, it was all about new experiences," Oliverson said. "Yes, the show I had done. But, as an actor, you're not just looking for a new show; you're looking for new possibilities -- a new venue, new directors -- even with the same show. That's why I was intrigued by doing it outside (in downtown's Brady District) last year. Then, I really was done. I thought, 'What else is there to do?'
"Then I heard the Hard Rock wanted it. When does a local performer get the opportunity to perform in a 27,000-seat venue? It just doesn't happen, unless you're the ballet or the opera. I thought, 'Can it get any better than this?' Then they told me I was going to fly."
The company, Tulsa Project Theatre, which Oliverson said wasn't just created to perform Rocky Horror but also professional-level, large-scale musicals, enlisted both local actors and professional, out-of-state actors for the show.
The cast includes locals Bob Hendrick as the Narrator, Pete Brennan as Riff Raff, Claire Kifer Morris as Magenta, Michael Ervin as Rocky and Rebecca Ungerman as Eddie/Dr. Scott, as well as out-of-towners Betsy Jilka as Janet, Wendell Summers as Brad and Tim Singleton as Columbia.
Machele Miller Dill directs the show, and Heather Hall choreographs.
"I think I can safely say, from my time doing professional theater, this harkens to that," Oliverson said. "This has been professional from day one. This has been such a gift to me personally. It's such a joy because I'm learning so much. It's made me snap to and exercise old rusty joints.
"Machele has opened my mind to new ideas. I've done this show before, but she's redone it. It's the subtleties she gives you that really enhance your character. It's like having the absolute best boss you could ever have who totally gets you and wants you to succeed and works toward that goal."
Oliverson said his character is different, too. Audiences aren't going to see the same Frank they've seen in years past.
"The mask that I wore as Frank N. Furter is now taken down," he said. "You see a build in Frank this year from this social person who wants to have fun, to where you see points where he starts to lose it, to lose a grip on his reality. He's not just crazy and fun-loving from the beginning. He's softer at the beginning and just kind of loses his shit at the end. Then he comes full circle, where he realizes what he's done.
"It's still a blast, but there is much more subtext to it this year. There's much more character development for all of us. Why are we doing it? Why are we there? The characters have a much stronger back story."
The setting is different this year, too. Instead of a castle, the show is set in a club reminiscent of a 1980s rave.
And this year, Oliverson's not making any claims of retirement. He's actually not making any indication of the future. He's enjoying this year's production and playing his character -- with whom he has an interesting relationship.
"I both love and hate him," Oliverson said. "He is free to be exactly who he wants to be. He has no regrets in the beginning; he does what he wants to do. It's a very freeing role.
"But what I like about him personally is that juxtaposition: You love him, but you know you shouldn't love him. He makes you question who you are as a person. Are we capable of loving things that are really bad for us? And we do. He's a villain but, by God, you just want to hang with him. You just want to play with him, but then you realize the things he's done and you wonder why you love him so much."
The Rocky Horror Show plays Oct. 28 through Oct. 30 at 7:30pm at The Joint, off Interstate 44 at exit 240A. Tickets are $35, $55 and $100 at hardrockcasinotulsa.com/thejoint or at The Joint's box office.
Get a Clue
The Broken Arrow Community Playhouse continues its run of Peter DePietro's Clue the Musical this weekend, Oct. 28-31, at The Main Place, 1800 S. Main Street in Broken Arrow.
The musical is based on the board game by Parker Brothers where players use clues to determine whodunit in which room and with which weapon, and the stage version is quite similar. Three cards are drawn at the beginning of the musical and placed in an envelope. The cast then performs one of the 216 possible scripts based on the cards chosen. The audience is responsible for solving the mystery.
Clue the Musical features lyrics by Tom Chiodo, music by Galen Blum, Wayne Barker and Vinnie Martucci and is directed by Jana Ellis.
The cast includes T.J. Bowlin, Sheila Alley, Mark Tibey, Hilary Hunt, Terry Michael, Jay Christie, Seth Paden and Rebekah Liston.
Tickets are $13 and available at The Main Place or online at bacptheatre.com.
Cast a Spell
Also this weekend, Oct. 27-30, American Theatre Company continues its run of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center's John H. Williams Theatre, 110 E. 2nd St.
The Tony Award-winning musical comedy centers on six quirky adolescents in a spelling bee run by three equally quirky grown-ups. The kids learn that winning isn't everything and losing doesn't necessarily make you a loser.
Tickets are $30 and available at the PAC box office or tulsapac.com.
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