It was the mid-’80s when I lost my virginity.
Before you start doing the math, let me first explain. It was at Toronto’s Roxy Theatre with hundreds of kids. And we were there to see a then decade-old movie.
Every Friday night, my fellow “batcavers” and I would doll up in our finest dark attire, complete with fishnet stockings, white powdered face and red lipstick (and that included the boys), and head down to the Roxy on Danforth for the weekly screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
In our knapsacks were the essential props: a newspaper, small bag of rice, water pistol, lighter, rubber gloves, noisemaker, confetti, toilet paper, toast, party hat, bell, playing cards, and hot dogs.
By week three, we knew all the lines, both the ones spoken by the actors and the ones, often irreverent, that we, the audience, shouted out at the screen. We tossed our props in wild oblivion, singing along. I never felt a smidgen of guilt for the crew who had to clean up after us like I would now.
Thirty years later and on a Thursday night in a barn in Armstrong, B.C., of all places, I lost my Rocky Horror virginity all over again.
I’m happy to report that there are fellow RPHS “freaks” like me still out there, shouting, singing and dancing along to the Time Warp.
They come in all ages, and appropriate dress, and know every word.
I am also happy to report that the live stage version of The Rocky Horror Show is just as good, maybe even better, than the screen version – even though the plot is beyond ridiculous, but who cares, it’s the campy craziness that we’ve come to love.
Presented by Vernon’s newest musical theatre company, Big Apple Productions, the cast and crew shiver their timbers, wearing next to nothing, to put a floor show in the horticulture building, normally used for commercial displays at the Interior Provincial Exhibition. (Luckily, the heating system that broke down just the day before the show opened was fixed.)
Embodying those scantily clad roles are some fabulously brave people who look pretty darn sexy in fishnets and leather corsets.
Top of that list has to be the titular Brian Martin, who truly transforms himself into the saucy, naughty, and deadly vamp that is Dr. Frank-N-Furter. His projection, expression, and great gams are up there with Tim Curry’s (who embodied the role in the original stage and film versions), and that’s saying something.
Martin is surrounded by some great supporters, and I’m not just talking about those garters, including Craig Howard and Vicki Proulx, as newly engaged couple Brad and Janet. These two have to wear their underwear (nice tighty whities, Brad) for most of the show while performing some acrobatic moves in the numbers Dammit Janet and Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a Touch Me.
Speaking of those “acrobatics,” they are very well done, in shadow puppet-like fashion behind a sheet. Also doing their camp vamp best are Susan Evans as the maid Magenta, and she has quite the fan club, noting how many people were dressed as her in the audience, as well as Michael Gairns as pasty-faced, follicly-challenged Riff Raff.
Showing off her dance moves and powerful pipes, Tanya Lipscomb adds a sparkle to the feisty Columbia, while Alex Peterson does a mighty fine entrance as Eddie on a motorbike, no less, in Hot Patootie Bless My Soul. (Meatloaf would be proud.)
As Rocky, Don Cecile pulls off the made-up man with the tan and gold lamé briefs well, while Peter Byrnes (who is not boring, despite what the audience shouts out) keeps things moving along as The Narrator.
Lovely chanteuse Judy Rose, as Usherette, blows it out of the castle performing the opening/closing number Science Fiction/Double Feature, while the sexy phantom chorus crawls, vamps and creeps its way through the numbers better than a spider in heels.
Hats off to director Neil Facey, the costumers, makeup/hair artists, lighting/sound/set designers, choreographer and everyone else for pulling it all off so well, and a big red lipstick smooch must also go out to the incredible band Half-a-Quorum, led by musical director/producer/creator and all-round queen of the night, Melina Moore.
Thank you for helping me “lose it” all over again.
The Rocky Horror Show closes tonight (Halloween) at the IPE Horticulture Building in Armstrong. Showtime is at 8 p.m. And for people who wish to throw those props, not allowed at the live show, a screening of RHPS will take place at Armstrong’s Centennial Theatre tonight at midnight. At press time, some tickets were still available. Contact the Ticket Seller at 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca for tickets/info.
– Kristin Froneman is the entertainment/arts editor at The Vernon Morning Star.