October 31, 2014, by Dillon Kato, Missoulian
AHalloween cult classic is back in town.
“The Rocky Horror Show” has returned to Missoula after a multi-year hiatus, having done productions at the Wilma before in both 2009 and 2010. Producer Reid Reimers said the hope is that this time, the show is here to stay as an annual event.
The production, put on by the Montana Actors’ Theatre, will have two shows Friday evening and one show Saturday at midnight. In addition to producing the show, Reimers also plays the role of cross-dressing mad scientist Dr. Frank N. Furter.
“I have my producer hat and my acting heels,” he said.
When first asked to play the mad scientist role in the previous productions, Reimers said he had never seen the movie and didn’t know exactly who Frank N. Furter was.
“I was thinking a white lab coat, big crazy hair. So I went and saw it, and then I went out and got heels the next day,” he said.
Reimers said even to someone who has watched the 1975 film adaptation of the play, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” the live performance has some differences and also allows the actors to play with the structure and timing of a cult classic.
“If we’re just up there trying to redo the movie it’s not worth our time to be honest,” Reimers said.
For him, that means taking his character of Frank N. Furter and trying to offer a different take than the popular version played by Tim Curry.
“He had very effeminate mannerisms to him. I tend to play mine more masculine, or at least more dominant. But when you’re mincing around in heels, there’s only so manly you can do it,” Reimers said.
This weekend, he’ll be a coming back to the role for the third time as a 7-foot-three-3 tall “towering transvestite and sex crazed egomaniac” when he takes the stage at the Wilma.
The Hellgate Rollergirls will be helping out as ushers for the production, and Missoula group Cigarette Girls Burlesque will provide pre-show entertainment.
“Rocky Horror” live shows are famous for crowd interaction, and Reimers said for the Missoula performance, they are leaning heavily into that aspect. The show will also be selling prop bags that include an instruction sheet on how to use everything from the included squirt gun and newspaper to noise makers and toilet paper. The program for the show will also list out audience call backs for people attending their first “Rocky Horror.”
“I think that’s what’s fun. As much as we push for diehard fans, we want it to be a show that everybody can enjoy,” Reimers said.
Director Heather Adams said in general, audiences in the past have been pretty good about the etiquette that goes along with verbal call backs and props, including following the appropriate times and never throwing things on stage. During rehearsals, cast members and other people have sat in the audience area and done the shout-outs to get the actors used to the slight change of pace.
“There have certainly been plenty of moments where everyone has cracked up and loses concentration for a moment,” Adams said. “That’s part of the beauty of live theater, you never really know how it will go.”
The previous shows in Missoula have filled the Wilma Theatre and Reimers is expecting similar turnout for the shows over the weekend, especially on the Halloween night shows.
“What’s fun is the people who come for the 8 p.m., they are already in costume, get out of the show and you’re already downtown. The same for the midnight, it’s a great way to end a Halloween night out,” he said.