The small BX studio is a flurry of activity as scantily clad actors race across the room, preparing for the fast-approaching performance.
Big Apple Productions’ Melina Schein and director Neal Facey, backed by a team of talented actors willing to bare it all on stage, are gearing up to do the time warp again in the fourth annual Rocky Horror Show at O’Keefe Ranch Oct. 25-28.
“I thought that, after most of our audience having seen the show, I assumed they would have had enough,” Schein said. “But a local uprising not only from the audience but from cast and crew was really exciting. The show must go on.”
With roots in the original 1973 London musical written by Richard O’Brien, the performance tells of a trusting young couple Janet Weiss (played by Melaney Campbell) and Brad Majors (Craig Howard) who find themselves in need of aid after their car breaks down.
They travel to a nearby castle, only to fall under the twisted supervision of Dr. Frank N. Furter (Brian Martin) — the depraved mad scientist in fishnets and high-heels — and his lackeys Riff Raff (Don Cecile), Magenta (Keyanna Burgher) and Furter’s prized creation, Rocky Horror (Richard Chippendale).
It’s a story of science fiction, B horror, sexuality and physical comedy. And it’s one that has gained traction in Vernon audiences.
“On the surface, it feels like a nonsensical show with very little plot,” Schein said. “It just grew this incredible cult following. Now, more than ever, the message of being yourself and giving in to life’s pleasures are more relevant than ever before. I think on the popularity of the show, people want a space where they can feel welcomed and the Rocky Horror Show does that.”
Facey, who has directed the show for the past four years, agreed.
“It’s a good show about inclusion — that’s the message that people are grabbing,” he said.
The message embedded in the performance, said Burgher — who was a phantom in her introduction to the Rocky Horror Show last year — is one that strikes close to home.
“I think Vernon comes across as a conservative town, yet everyone loves this crazy show. Given the show has a cult following everywhere and that the message is so awesome, it’s really not surprising,” she said. “It’s a town where they don’t get that outlet.”
And for Chippendale, who is making his debut on the stage in Rocky’s iconic skimpy gold Speedo, it’s an opportunity to push beyond his comfort zone.
“It’s crazy. I really wanted to do something big when I turned 50,” Chippendale said, joking that it doesn’t get bigger than Rocky. “I saw it two years ago and was blown away. It’s really a huge opportunity. I never dreamt of it in a million years. I truly believe you have to live each day. Anything you want to do, do it. That’s why I’m here.”
Pushing beyond the boundaries is something that is becoming more comfortable for Martin, who is ready for his fourth year as Dr. Frank N. Furter.
“It feels great. I think this is the most fun I’ve had doing this,” Martin said as he sat in an outfit of heavy eye makeup, a tight black leather vest, fishnets and high-heels, leaving little to the imagination. “I get super nervous doing this, but it feels good this year.”
And it’s a sentiment that is widely felt throughout the Rocky Horror Show cast.
“It feels so good,” Burgher said of the production. “When she (Schein) decided that it was going to happen, I knew I was going to come back.”
Given her previous experience in the show, Burgher is excited to try out a new character.
“I was a bit sad to lose the phantom, but it’s a really different perspective,” she said.
To keep the show fresh for audience who are back for their fourth year, Schein and her team have added surprise changes and a list of local celebrity guest narrators, including Mayor Akbal Mund, Betty Selin of Sun FM, the esteemed Barry Dorval, Sproing Creative’s Heath Fletcher and many more — all leading to a production Schein boasts as raunchier than ever.
But with Martin and Howard as the only actors returning to their former roles, it’s a homecoming that is sure to be different from previous years.
“It’s been good this year because we have a new cast,” Facey said, adding that some actors have stayed with the cast but moved to different roles. “It’s fresh. It’s a fun show — people should come out and expect to be entertained.”
As the crew works hard to do the time warp again, excitement is high to bring back the Vernon Halloween tradition.
“It feels wonderful,” Schein said. “Every time we get into the production, it feels like coming home.”
The fourth annual Rocky Horror Show runs Oct. 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m., and Oct. 27 and 28 at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. at O’Keefe Ranch. Tickets are available for #38.25 adult and $59 VIP pass through the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca. VIP passes include admission to Rocky Horror plus admission to both corn mazes at O’Keefe’s Field of Screams. Pre-show wine bar provided by Italian Kitchen. Prop bags will be for sale for audience interaction. It is bleacher seating, and the show is once again presented in the round. Nudity, explicit language and sexual themes. Viewer discretion is advised.