A ‘Rocky Horror’ Homecoming
With a homecoming theme of “Yosef Loves the ’90s,” Appalachian State University is taking alumni back in time.
And with the Boone debut of “The Rocky Horror Show,” the Appalachian Musical Theatre Ensemble is pulling them into a full-on time warp.
As one of the weekend’s unofficial homecoming activities, the zany, humorous and blatantly risqué musical premieres at 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, followed by a matinee performance at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, both in the Rosen Concert Hall at the Broyhill Music Center on campus.
“This is the first time the show’s been done in the High Country,” said Keith Martin, the John M. Blackburn Distinguished Professor of Theatre, who’s co-directing the performance with student Corey Roe, a senior theater major. “As far back as they have records, there’s never been a stage show of ‘Rocky Horror’ in the High Country.”
The show features the work of 95 students, all members of the Appalachian Musical Theatre Club.
“I’m stunned with the talent,” Martin said.
The same goes for Roe, who Martin requested to co-direct after excelling in an advanced directing class.
“I think the majority of them have been fans of the show forever, and you could really tell that from day one,” Roe said. “They’re really excited and energetic.”
The show will be staged differently than most musicals, however. While it will feature complete costumes, a full band and all the dialogue and songs that fans adore, the confines of Rosen Concert Hall make blocking a full-fledged production difficult.
“Basically, the only difference is we’re not using body mikes, so (the performers) all have mike stands they’ll have to come talk to,” Roe said.
The rest is musical history.
“The Rocky Horror Show,” with music, lyrics and book written by Richard O’Brien, is a campy tribute to sci-fi and horror B-movies of yesteryear, telling the story of newlyweds Brad and Janet (Will Allen and Blair Howerton), whose car breaks down in a most unfortunate place during a most unfortunate storm.
Seeking shelter (and a phone), the hapless couple happens across the home of mad scientist Dr. Frank N. Furter (Luke Schaffer), a self-described “sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania,” who, with his motley crew of generally odd people, unveils his latest creation — life itself, in the form of a muscle man named Rocky Horror (Darius Gergory).
Originally produced in 1973, the musical spawned the 1975 cult classic film, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” which has the distinction of being the longest-running release in film history.
It’s also one of history’s more interactive films, with audience members attending special screenings in costume, calling out lines and throwing props.
“We encourage audience members to come in costume, but because of the venue we’re in, there won’t be any throwing of toast or general craziness that the cult following has brought to the movie theater,” Roe said. “Costumes are encouraged, throwing things on stage is not.”
Tickets to the Appalachian Musical Theater Ensemble performance of “The Rocky Horror Show” cost $8 each and are being sold in advance at the Plemmons Student Union information desk through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets will also be sold at the door, beginning one hour prior to each performance.
The Appalachian Musical Theatre Ensemble is the performing arm of the Appalachian Musical Theatre Club, composed of students who represent more than a dozen different academic majors from across the university.
The club, which was formally recognized in 2012, is open to all students interesting in promoting and performing in musical theater.
As such, not only do they perform and pick their plays, but students must also secure production rights, pay royalties and facilitate promotion, which, in this instance, involves collaboration with the Appalachian Popular Programming Society.
“As a result, we’re doubling the number of musicals in the (theater and dance) department,” Martin said. “How cool is that?”