It’s a dark and stormy night. A young couple’s car breaks down near a castle. Seeking a telephone to call for help, the sweethearts meet Rocky, a buff creation of mad transvestite scientist Frank-N-Furter, along with a bunch of other zany creatures.
This is the storyline of The Rocky Horror Show. But the show is so much more than the plot.
The Rocky Horror Show has been described as a mashup of campy science fiction with Marvel-inspired characters, 1960s beach party jams and rock ’n’ roll music. Premiered at an experimental theater in London more than 40 years ago, The Rocky Horror Show is now a worldwide stage hit.
Presented by CU Boulder’s Department of Theatre & Dance, The Rocky Horror Show will run March 3-19. It’s an opportunity for talented theater and dance students to be a part of a cult classic.
Dillon Colagrosso, a senior studying performance with a dance minor, is playing Dr. Frank-N-Furter. While he has not seen the 1975 movie, Colagrosso did watch a stage version the night before auditions and decided to try out for the bawdy production.
“We’re trying to stay traditional with the film,” Colagrosso said, “but we’re adding our own flavor to the play.”
In portraying Frank-N-Furter, Colagrosso said the audience can expect to see a larger-than-life character on stage.
“You can love to hate him, but you just can’t take your eyes off him,” Colagrosso said. “All my theater training and everything I’ve been taught at CU Boulder has led up to this play for me.”
Bailey Trierweiler is a senior working toward a BFA in the design technology management program for theater and a BA in ecology and evolutionary biology. As an audio engineer for the production, Trierweiler is the assistant sound designer and the front-of-house mixer, which entails digitally blending the band with the microphones.
This is her 13th show with the department. Trierweiler has seen the movie and her parents are fans of the original.
“It’s fun, wacky, goofy, dynamic and a cult classic,” she said. “There’s so much you can do with it onstage. I love that theatre brings together different people to tell a story to an audience and then we move on to the next project, which I think is so beautiful.”
Hattie Houser, a freshman double majoring in dance and sociology, is playing the character of a phantom, so she’s doing chorus choreography and singing. As a dancer, this is her first play. A Rocky Horror fan, she has seen the movie several times.
“The musical incorporates discourse about sexual orientation, gender identities,” she said, “and features aliens, science fiction, Frankenstein and more. Rocky Horror has a lot of depth, making it a really neat and entertaining show!”
Houser’s parents, who have seen the movie, are flying in from Arizona to see her perform. “My mom told me, ‘If you’re doing Rocky Horror, we have to see it,’” Houser said. “There’s lots of outrageous comedy and a ton of dancing. I don’t know if my dad knows what he’s in for, but I think he’ll enjoy it.”
Natalie Reutimann is a junior studying costume, hair and makeup design—and that is exactly what she is handling for the play. The free-spirited, nontraditional theme of the play has allowed Reutimann to create a fantastical, sparkly, fun look for the characters.
“The play is definitely out there—entertaining and scandalous—but in a funny way,” she said. “If you’re a huge Rocky Horror fan, like I am, you won’t be disappointed. We’re keeping some of the iconic, characteristic look of the costumes, but with a Victorian-era twist for Frank’s world. So, it’s going to be heightened, more theatrical, but not straying too far from the original Rocky Horror costumes.”
Hadley Kamminga-Peck, who received a doctorate from CU Boulder in 2015 in theater, with a focus on Shakespearean studies, is the director of the CU Boulder stage production.
“We’re so lucky, because our musical director is David Nehls, who played Riff Raff in the original European tour,” Kamminga-Peck said. “David learned the role from Richard O’Brien, who wrote the musical stage show. Which means that David has a direct line through Richard to the original show, so David is a wealth of information for our production.”
Kamminga-Peck said the audience can expect classic Rocky Horror elements, but with a few modifications.
“We’re punking up the songs a bit and adapting them to suit our own style, plus we have a female Dr. Scott character,” she said. “But it’s still Rocky.”
In other words, it’ll be good.