Backstage with ‘The Rocky Horror Show’

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(Host) Since 1975 when it became a movie, the Rocky Horror Show has been a cult hit. It’s famous for its noisy, participatory audiences who return night after night to hurl the same insults and bad jokes at the actors.

This weekend and next the Barre Players will perform this outrageous rock musical. VPR’s Susan Keese went backstage for a preview.

(Keese) First a warning: If you’ve never seen the play or movie, you’re what Rocky Horror Show veterans call a virgin.

Newcomers are welcome. The Barre Players have even assembled virgin packets for those who aren’t familiar with the show’s audience participation rituals.

But be prepared to be shocked. There’s plenty of provocative body language, cross-dressing, and general…

(Brad) “Debauchery”
(Janet) “Lots of things we’re not used to”
(Brad) “Hedonists”
(Janet) “Shocking moments everywhere we turn.”

(Keese) Rick Young and Maggie Ferriera play Brad and Janet, a very un-hip young couple. The play is set in the 1950s. Brad wears plaid pants and a stodgy cap. Janet has a little white purse and a lot of hair spray.

They’ve just gotten engaged when their car breaks down. They stop at a nearby castle, where they meet some weird, ghoulish extraterrestrials.

(Keese) “These people are aliens?”
(Brad and Janet) “Ooh yes they are from Transsexual in the galaxy of Transsexual in Transylvania….”

(Keese) Here, despite the disturbing evidence to the contrary, Janet is telling Brad they’ll find the help they’re looking for at the castle.

(Janet sings) “In the velvet darkness
of a darkest night, burning bright,
there’s a guiding star..”

(Keese) The show’s a satire of old B’ horror movies as well as an homage to fifties rock n roll.

The castle is inhabited by a mad, lascivious alien transvestite scientist named Dr. Frank-N-Furter and his weird alien groupies. Even before she meets him, Janet is starting to feel afraid.

(Janet) “Um, look this isn’t the junior chamber of commerce Brad.”
(Brad) “I’m here, Janet there’s nothing to worry about.”
(Frank-N-Furter sings) “….Don’t get strung out by the way I look. Don’t judge a book by its cover…”

(Keese) Dr. Frank-N-Furter appears in lurid lipstick, a silver lame corset with garters, fishnet stockings and seven inch platform heels.

He’s played by Joe Grabon.

(Grabon) “Dr. Frank-N- Furter is a scientist…. who creates a man, Rocky, for his own purposes…and that is actually the night that my beautiful creature is being born and I’m having a party and they stumble into that …and that’s when I decide to take full advantage…ha ha ha… I prey on their innocence…”

(Keese) What happens next is a wild ride you’ll have to see the show to experience. But Janet and Brad will never be the same. This show is definitely not for children.

Jason Pierce is the musical director. He says “The Rocky Horror Show” is probably the most risky, and risqu play this community theater group has undertaken.

(Pierce) “It’s not a show that one would immediately associate with the Barre Players, central Vermont.”

(Keese) But many of the local actors were already Rocky Horror Show devotees. And they’re betting more will come out of the woodwork once the show opens.

Along with anyone else with a sense of humor who’s up for some rock and roll and a little vicarious bad behavior.

(Singing) “There’s a light, light in the darkness of everybody’s life.”

(Keese) For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Susan Keese, Backstage.

(Host) The Rocky Horror Show will be performed at the Barre Opera House, Friday and Saturday April 21st and 28 and 22nd and 29th with midnight performances on Saturdays.

Barre Players

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