USF’s rendition of Rocky Horror is filled with outrageous sets, dazzling lights, sensual costumes, a rock band and men in high heels and corsets. The cult-classic play is about a couple that ends up in the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a “sweet transvestite from Transexual, Transylvania,” after their car breaks down.
Past and present students from USF’s College of Visual and Performing Arts collaborated to produce the show. Music majors comprise the live band, and many actors are theater majors.
Michael Titone, a USF alumnus who graduated in 2004 with a theater degree, plays
Frank-N-Furter. Although The Rocky Horror Picture Show is well known, Titone was not familiar with it until after his audition and refuses to see the movie because he doesn’t want to base the character he plays on anyone else’s performance.
“It’s also a really big responsibility because some things people expect to see, they have to be there,” said Titone. “In some ways, if you don’t do what they are expecting, then they will be disappointed, so it’s a very fine line of giving them what they expect, but also making it your own.”
The play is directed by Bill Brewer, a theater and dance professor, who said the themes in the story are sexual
awakening, greed and self indulgence – all of which can lead to one’s demise. Despite the powerful themes of the story, the play itself is often overshadowed by the iconography of the movie production – in particular, the drag queens and raunchy sex scenes.
Rocky Horror also features characters that experience feelings and situations similar to those of college students. One such character is Brad, played by Brent Reams, a junior majoring in theater.
“Brad is very confused, and he is trying to figure out who he is in the show,” said Reams. “I think this is the point in our lives where we are also trying to figure (out) what we want to do.”
Interactivity with the audience is a key element of the original theater production that USF’s The Rocky Horror Show will also emulate. There will be two nights of group participation where the audience is encouraged to dress up. No outside props are allowed in the theater, but prop bags will be available for a minimal fee.
The cast has mixed feelings about the audience participation aspect.
“I just haven’t done anything like this before, so I am not used to it,” said Jennifer Rodney, a senior vocal and pre-med major who plays Janet Weiss. “We have been
practicing for months now as a musical – a
normal musical where you do your lines and there is timing built into each line; then you have people screaming at you. It throws everything off.”
One unique facet of USF’s production of The Rocky Horror Show is that there are four narrators for the run of the show. The narrators chosen include USF President Judy Genshaft, Bethany Cagle of WUSF, Tampa Tribune’s Dan Ruth and Charley Belcher of Fox 13.
“We got some great personalities and each one will give their own spin to the narrator,” said Brewer. “It’s exciting for the cast because of the fact the role changes – different people, different nights. It’s been a great experience to involve some local celebrities.”