Rocky Horror Show Live returns with 1930s inspiration

Rocky Horror Show Live returns with 1930s inspiration

Jay Pyette

September 11, 2016, by Peter Friesen, Missoulian

“This isn’t the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Brad!”

Janet Weiss would have had quite the same reaction if she’d happened upon the MASC studio on the North side of Missoula Sunday evening.

More than 50 people showed up in fishnet stockings, Gothic makeup and lingerie, on all genders, to an open audition for “The Rocky Horror Picture Show Live,” an annual stage event held at the Wilma Theatre around Halloween.

“Today we are looking for your success, not your failure,” third-year choreographer Heather Adams told the group, seated on the floor of MASC’s warehouse. “Make big, bold choices.”

Those 50 hopefuls sang and learned choreography for “The Time Warp,” a centerpiece song in the stage production and film. The raunchy lyrics and dancing, as well as the colorful costumes and wild hair of the performers, prompted Janet’s exclamation in the 1975 film.

Adams, who sneaked out of her Phoenix home in junior high and high school to see “Rocky Horror,” had done some level of planning for the show’s choreography, but said a lot will come together in the few weeks between auditions and rehearsal.

A high level of dance training isn’t necessary to be in the show, Adams said. She looks for style, energy and enthusiasm over pure technical knowledge, but admitted things go a lot smoother in the short rehearsal time if the performer isn’t totally green.

“Ultimately, if someone’s got the right energy and attitude, I love ‘em,” Adams said.

Jeff Medley has had the right energy and attitude every time “Rocky Horror” has been put on at the Wilma, playing Riff Raff, an assistant of Dr. Frank N. Furter, the mad scientist who stars the show.

Medley first saw “Rocky Horror” in the ‘80s, when a friend put it on at a sleepover.

“I’ve never really thought of myself as human,” he said, identifying with the “freaky” characters. “My mind was blown.”

Admitting he’s terrible at remembering the choreography, Medley said he’s auditioned each time and won the part. Although he loves the show, he knows whomever’s best for the role should play it.

“If someone comes out of the crowd who’s a better Riff Raff, they’re welcome to it,” he said.

This year’s production will focus more on the campy horror and circus freak-show themes of “Rocky Horror,” director Rosie Ayers said.

The choreography for “Time Warp” played up those themes, with a couple of Charleston-inspired steps and macabre moves, from walking fingers across an arm like a spider, to grabbing the mouth and baring teeth.

“We want to see gross, we want to see scary,” Sarah Pace, who stepped in to teach choreography for Adams, told the performers. “If you’re like, ‘This is weird!’ then you’re nailing it.”

About an hour into the audition, the garage door was thrown open, the huge ceiling fan started to spin and the dancers started to tire a bit, taking water breaks when they could and heaving sighs of relief when they completed a full run-through of the moves.

To see a little of their imagination, as well as how they worked with others, Adams had the dancers split up into pairs to come up with their own moves for a section of the song.

One pair ended up with one on the other’s shoulders, another pair worked out a back-to-back routine, and one woman tried to fit her partner’s leg over his head, to no avail.

As Brad Majors replied to Janet: “They’re probably foreigners with ways different from our own. They may do some more … folk dancing.”

Ayers said they’d like to have a full cast of 20 to 25 performers within a week, before rehearsals start for four shows scheduled Oct. 28 and 29.

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