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‘I’m just a sweet trans-vestite from transsexual, Transylvania’

‘Rocky Horror’ struts into the Old Globe, pumps and all

Matt McGrath as Frank ‘N’ Furter and Jason Wooten as Riff Raff

After a summer season of classic theater productions – including Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus and Shakespeare’s epics Much Ado About Nothing and The Tempest – The Old Globe is getting a little funky with its next production. The cross-dressing, man-making, time-warping Frank ‘N’ Furter and his castle-filled ghoulish inhabitants take over the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center, opening Sept. 15 for a two-month run.

Of course, one question begs to be asked. Will The Old Globe Theatre and its patrons be ready for The Rocky Horror Show, doctor? Director James Vasquez and The Old Globe are hoping they are.

Vasquez, a San Diego resident, is quickly becoming a household name in the San Diego theatrical community as well as around the country. In an interview with San Diego LGBT Weekly he explained what sets this production apart from the many other Rocky Horror stage productions people have seen.

“The story is such a fantastic homage to Sci-Fi and B-horror films,” said Vasquez. “So we want to be faithful to that, and tip our hats to what people have come to love about The Rocky Horror (Picture) Show.

“But it’s also 2011,” he continued. “The music for our production has been re-orchestrated in such a way to give it a little harder of an indie rock feel. The fantastic and sexy design of the world – set, costumes, choreography and lighting – match and support that deconstructed indie sound. And then you layer on top of it all, the incredible contemporary voices of the cast! We definitely intend to give audiences a wild night of theater, hopefully unlike anything they’ve seen before on the Globe stage.”

Vasquez also wanted to bring out the heart of the piece as opposed to it being no more than a spectacle, which a lot of people tend to expect given the cult following the film has.

“So often The Rocky Horror Show is thought of as a big ole piece of nonsensical camp,” Vasquez explained. “That’s definitely a part of it, and where a lot of the fun lies. But there’s also a whole lot of heart within the story. Our young heroes, Brad and Janet, start their journey with a very idealist view of the world. Over the course (of time) they learn about themselves, emotionally and sexually, and come together at the end different people, making them stronger as a team. And, of course, the iconic character of Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter, teaches us to not be afraid to let our personal freak flags fly! ‘Don’t dream it, be it!’”

Rocky Horror started out as a stage production in London back in 1973, and then became the cult film most of us know and love in 1975, starring the talents of the then unknown Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick.

Old Globe Executive Producer Louis G. Spisto lists in his program notes that although most audiences know Rocky Horror through the film version, he hopes audiences enjoy the experience of seeing it as it was originally intended – live on stage.

The stage version is different for obvious reasons. One of the major differences is what can, and cannot, be thrown on stage during the show. Most participants and cult followers of the movie know what they should bring to the movie theater to participate in the fun of the film. But the live version is scaled back a bit so as not to endanger the actors on stage.

The stage version premiered at The Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles in 1974, ran for a year and then opened on Broadway in 1975. The show was panned by critics and closed after only 45 performances. It was then revived on Broadway in 2000 and ran for two years.

Filling the enormous pumps of the sweet transvestite, Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter, will be actor Matt McGrath. McGrath, a Broadway veteran himself, is replacing actor James Barbour who had to exit his contract due to issues with his wife’s pregnancy.

Most audiences will recognize McGrath from his television (Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Now and Again, and New York Undercover) and film appearances (Broken Hearts Club, Boys Don’t Cry and The Imposters). His Broadway, and Off Broadway, credits are many and varied and have included shows like Cabaret, A Streetcar Named Desire and Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Vasquez, a replacement as well, is no stranger to Old Globe audiences. He has been dance captain for How the Grinch Stole Christmas since 2003 and took over as director last year for the same production.

“The Globe has been unbelievably supportive, and given me opportunities I’d never dreamed I would get this early in my directing career,” said Vasquez. “I grew up seeing shows at The Globe, (and) had my first professional acting job on the Cassius Carter stage when I was 15.”

While directing was of interest to Vasquez, it wasn’t something he considered pursuing until recently.

“I’ve always had an interest in directing and choreographing, but hadn’t really considered pursuing it professionally until a few years ago. I was invited to attend the Director’s Lab West at the Pasadena Playhouse in 2008. It’s a two-week series of intensive workshops, which really gave me the confidence to step out and take on a show of my own. I’ve gotten a lot of support and opportunity from the local theater community – especially Cygnet Theatre, where I’ve directed Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Sweeney Todd (winner 2010 Craig Noel Award of Excellence for Outstanding Direction), and Diversionary Theatre, where I staged the West Coast premieres of [title of show], Fair Use and Twist. So to now have the chance to steer the ship of two (Old Globe) main stage musicals … I feel incredibly lucky.”

He also commented on how he feels the show itself will resonate with the gay community and what he hopes audiences will take away after seeing this production.

“Well, aside from the incredibly sexy, talented and half naked cast of men and women in high heels, fishnets and false eyelashes … the show encourages everyone to find their own inner rock star. It’s a story about living out loud, being comfortable with who you are, and, most importantly, celebrating who you are.

“I hope audiences leave feeling fired up and wanting to push their personal boundaries a little bit. But most importantly, we want them leaving having been a little shocked, having had a lot of laughs and hopefully time warping up the aisles on their way out of the theater.”

The Rocky Horror Show will run at The Old Globe Theatre from Sept. 15 through Nov. 6. Tickets can be purchased online at oldglobe.org, or by calling the theater at 619-23-GLOBE (234-5623).

Audience par-tici-pation

If getting the chance to throw things in a theater, sing along with the actors, dressing in drag and shouting out random lines from the show is your thing, then missing The Rocky Horror Show at The Old Globe would be a mistake.

Rocky Horror the stage version is being presented at The Old Globe this month and while it is very close to the film version there will be some changes.

As most followers of the cult film know, rice, newspapers, water pistols, candles, flashlights, rubber gloves, noise makers, confetti, toilet paper, toast, party hats, bells, cards, hot dogs and prunes are the staples you need to bring to the movie theater to toss out when you hear the appropriate phrase mentioned in the film. Most of those staples transfer well to the stage version, but be aware that those things that are considered harmful to the actors on stage will not be allowed.

While The Old Globe isn’t allowing audience members to bring their own props, they will have audience par-tici-pation bags that will be available for sale in the lobby of the theater. The kit includes:

Newspaper: When Brad and Janet are caught in the storm at the start of the show, Janet covers her head with a newspaper. You should do the same.

Lighter: During the “There’s a light” verse of “Over at the Frankenstein Place, illuminate the theater with the lighter.

Rubber gloves: During and after the creation speech, Frank ‘N’ Furter snaps his rubber gloves three times. You should snap your gloves in sync.

Cards: During the song “I’m Going Home” Frank ‘N’ Furter sings, “Cards for sorrow, cards for pain.” You should shower the theater with cards.

The Globe also encourages audience members to feel free to “dress in their finest Rocky Horror fashions (as long as they don’t interfere with the sightlines or comfort of other audience members),” a Globe spokesperson said.

Out at The Globe

Two nights in particular might be of some interest to San Diego LGBT Weekly readers:

Oct. 6 at 6:30 p.m. there will be an event entitled Out At The Globe which is being sold as an event separate from the show at a cost of $20 per person and will include an evening for LGBT theater lovers with a hosted wine and martini bar, appetizers and door prizes.

For patrons who really want to show their true Rocky Horror colors, there will be a Rocky Horror Costume Bash on Friday, Oct. 28, starting at 7:30 p.m. After the special Halloween performance, guests dressed in their most fabulous costumes will party with the cast of the show in Balboa Park’s Prado ballroom. In addition to cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and dancing, a costume contest will be held. For more information about this event, contact The Globe’s development department at 619-231-1941, Ext. 2380.



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Posted by LGBT Weekly on Sep 15, 2011. Filed under Feature Story. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “‘I’m just a sweet trans-vestite from transsexual, Transylvania’”

  1. RT “In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility” Eleanor Roosevelt

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