Theatre

Rocky Horror a sell-out for Dartmouth Players

'It's more than just a parody'

Adam Thayne, Ricky Jess and Brian Hart pose as Riff Raff, Frank 'N' Furter and Rocky.
Adam Thayne, left, Ricky Jess and Brian Hart pose as Rocky Horror characters Riff Raff, Frank ‘N’ Furter and Rocky.   Rachel Collier

Time and space travel, transvestite aliens, rock tunes, ballads, a mad scientist, a monster and an abundance of energy – these are among the reasons the Dartmouth Players have been looking forward to producing the Rocky Horror Show.

With the tireless efforts of director Jolene Pattison and producer Ann Miller, the Players opened a sold-out rendition of the show on Thursday night.

“It’s just a huge party,” says Justin MacLean, who plays one of the lead characters, Brad, who gets swept away with his girlfriend, Janet, by the transvestite Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter into a timewarped, unfamiliar world of aliens and experiments.

The Dartmouth Players are a local theatre group that produces a program of about four shows a year. Past president and board member Eric Jordan says the group has a loyal audience and usually sells out a few shows per production.

The Rocky Horror Show has generated much more buzz. “They usually save tickets to sell at the door,” says MacLean, “but we sold out so fast that they decided we wouldn’t save any.”

The Players sold more than 1,200 tickets. Each of the 11 shows, which run until Nov. 5 at the Dartmouth Players’ Theatre, have sold out.

“It’s just crazy,” says Adam Thayne, a classically trained Shakespearean actor who plays Riff-Raff, Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter’s hunchbacked butler and handyman.

“It’s got such a cult following, I’ve talked to people who are the most bland, cookie-cutter kind of people who are like, ‘I love that show!’ Then there are people who are on the other end of the fabulous spectrum, who love it as well.”

Pattison says audiences relate to the show “because it shows people who live on the fringes, and who are living with joy and abandon. It embraces individual expression but at the same time recognizes that people still need to live together. The characters need to co-operate.

Ricky Jess, who plays his dream role, Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter, thinks the Rocky Horror Show was ahead of its time.

“My favourite theme is that you can transform into anything you want even if it seems like blasphemy or wrong to society, you can get up and dress up and act however you want. Its an empowering message.”  

The Rocky Horror show strikes a nostalgic chord for many of the baby boomer generation who grew up watching B movies – low budget horror and science fiction movies.

These second-rate movies inspired Richard O’Brien to write the Rocky Horror Show as a parody in 1973. The tale was later turned into a cult classic movie, the Rocky Horror Picture Show in 1975.

Pattison says she really enjoyed featuring lots of classic elements that you would see in old movies.

The Rocky Horror cult isn’t limited to the baby boomer generation; Jordan sees more young people attending this show than normal.

Greg Haller, who is in his late twenties, has watched the Rocky Horror Picture Show movie more times than he can count. He decided to see the Dartmouth Players’ show and enjoyed hearing tunes from the original musical that weren’t in the 1975 movie.

“It’s more than just a parody,” says Haller. “It uses parody to bring its own great story to the table.”