Wow. What a dream come true. I've been a RHPS fan since I was about fourteen years old. And to work with this amazing cast and crew, live orchestra, rock show lighting... this was an incredible experience.
Director Justin Clow and producer Lori Rosa came up with this inspiration for Wicked Awesome Theatre, and fought tooth and nail to make it happen. They brought together this amazingly talented cast and I was thrilled to be a part of it. We opened Hallowe'en, 2006.
Playing our narrator, the Criminologist, was the ridiculously talented Seth Little, who despite not being quite twenty years old, stole the show with his dry wit and flawless comic timing. He also had his own tuxedo with sequined lapels. I mean, how cool is that??
Helping him along was our trio of Usherettes; Jessica Wampler, Lori Watt and Erin Regan, who opened the show with a bang and only went uphill from there.
For the Usherettes I wanted to do a sort of sexy 40's thing, with the bolero jackets and the pillbox hats.
Brad Majors, played by Geoff Campbell, proposes to his sweetheart, Janet Weiss, in their home town of Denton. They decide to go and break the news to their former teacher and mentor, Dr. Everett Scott.
As Brad and Janet drive through the rain, they get a flat tire and have to venture out, in search of a castle they passed, in hopes that they may find a phone...
We wanted to have the chorus out on stage, with their lighters, to encourage the audience to do the same, during "There's a Light", but I really wanted them to explode on to the stage and be seen for the first time during "The Timewarp", so we constructed these ponchos out of garbage bags to conceal the chorus' brightly coloured costumes until we were ready for them. They worked surprisingly well, and, of course, were cheap like borsht.
We went a little off the beaten track with our Phantoms/Transylvanians/Chorus. They were eleven gorgeous girls who were sexy and hilarious and worked their asses off. They absolutely made the show.
And, leading them all,
This production was nominated for eight Ovations Awards awards, but Stephan Bohemier was the only one to win for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Riff Raff. He was deliciously creepy and had wonderful control over both his hunched over body and his rock n' roll tenor. Richard O'Brien would have been proud.
Ashley Rose revelled in the sexy, dangerous Magenta, and loved her skimpy costumes, all of which were researched and built by my assistant designer, Jen Baycroft.
Bonnie Giroux was explosive as the tapdancing Columbia. She had enormous energy and commitment to the role and glittered all over the stage. I'm never making anything with that many sequins ever again. Six months later I'm still finding them in my food.
"How D'you do? I see you've met my faithful handyman..."
Damon Jang played our Sweet Transvestite, and his strong dance background came through clearly.
These are the 5 inch heels Damon wore throughout the show. I decided against open toed shoes like in the film, because I thought they wouldn't be comfortable or stable enough. I compromised by decorating the toes with little lips made out of red sequins.
Our set designers, Lori Rosa and Dan Hill came up with this fantastic sarcophagus for Rocky to be born out of.
"What a Fool...."
We had a lot of problems with the wrapping. The cord wrapping done in the film is all very well and good, but it's not reliable, and, on stage, you can't do another take. So, we had to come up with something simpler. We used four pieces of gauze. One piece wrapped around his torso, covering his gold shorts and his chest. The second piece wrapped around the left leg, with a little cup sewn into the end to fit around the toe. Then it crossed over the shoulder and wrapped down the right arm, and was held tightly in his fist. The third piece wrapped around the right leg and the left arm the same way, and the fourth was wrapped loosely around his head, to be unveiled by Frank. We had to be very careful with his head wrapping, as he was miked.
Frank unwraps his head, then Rocky throws away the bundles of gauze in his hands which quickly causes the gauze to spiral off his arms, and puddle around his feet. Columbia and Magenta help slide the loose gauze over his boots, and then Frank spins him out of his torso wrap. Worked extremely well, and didn't take two hours to set up like the cord wrapping.
Chris Kjersen was a last minute addition to our cast, as Rocky, the creation. I expected him to be "a blonde adonis", as it says so in the script. I didn't expect to like him as much as I did. He was absolutely professional, right from the start and made us all so comfortable that we soon forgot he was running around in his underwear. Well, almost...
Eddie was played by the absolutely adorable Kevin Miller, who brought along his own motorcycle! We tried to duplicate the vest worn by Meatloaf in the film as closely as possible.
"What charming underclothes you both have on...."
We had a limited set budget, so our "boudoir" was a translucent sheet held up around the bed platform by a few of the chorus.
For some reason, even though it was almost exactly the same dialogue, Brad's seduction always got more laughs...
"Tell Us About It, Janet..."
"Toucha Toucha Toucha Touch Me..." I don't really have any reason to keep posting pictures of this scene, except that it was incredibly hot. Our choreographer is a total perv, bless her heart.
"I was only away for a minute..." Note that Frank is now wearing Eddie's vest as a trophy. Nice subtle plot point, and it saved me from having to come up with another costume piece.
There's a musical number in the play so awful it didn't make it into the film, where Brad laments Janet's sexual betrayal. Our director, Justin Clow, and music director, Mike Broder, instead had him sing "Roxanne" by the Police. "Jah-net...." I thought it was a terrible idea at first, but it was actually brilliant, and the audiences LOVED it. So, if you're reading this, Justin and Mike, you were right and I was wrong. It won't happen again. ;)
Dan Hill was our brilliant Dr. Scott. He had wonderful comedic timing, and even shaved the top of his head for the role.
The angel costume idea was a bit last minute for "Eddie's Teddy", so I went with something deliberately cheesey. He milked it for all it was worth; swigging on his bottle of JD and coming on to the Trio.
Riff drugs the visitors in preparation for....
The floor show was an interesting technical challenge, and I'd love to see how other productions get around this issue. The script allows something like two and a half minutes from when Columbia is dragged off-stage to when five of the leads come back for the floor show. We wanted to stick to the movie fairly closely, so that's five full makeup and costume changes. As good as we got by the end of the run, it just wasn't possible.
In response, our brilliant directing team (Justin Clow, director; Mike Broder, music director; Keri Horton, choreographer) created an eight minute dance number just to facilitate this change backstage. It consisted of solos for each member of the chorus, which was an added bonus for them, and allowed the dressers and makeup people time to frantically strip, re-dress, scrub and re-makeup five actors.
Generally I was happy with the floor show costumes, although cranking out that many corsets was a bit of a pain in the ass. I wanted to re-create the tulle boas from the film, but there just wasn't time, so we had to settle for feathers. It still rankles deep in my soul, though.
This was one of my favourite moments in theatre. We couldn't afford a swimming pool, obviously, so in "Don't Dream It, Be It", Keri and Justin had Damon dive off the stage into the waiting arms of his adoring Phantom chorus. It was absolutely beautiful, and the kind of moment we wouldn't have found if we'd had a bigger budget.
"I'm a Wild And An Untamed Thing...."
My wonderful assistant designer, Jen Baycroft, researched and built the alien costumes, and the quick changes for this last act would not have been remotely possible without my amazing crew of dressers.
All in all, this was an incredible experience; gruelling but so exciting and I couldn't have asked to work with a more talented group of people.
Our wonderful eleven piece orchestra, led by our music director, Mike Broder (in the checkerboard gown).
Our director, Justin Clow, checks Bonnie Giroux's costume before the publicity photo shoot.
Our amazing stage manager, Reta Koropatnick, competantly running, as her first time, a show that would make most veterans run screaming for the hills, and our sound designer, JC Roy.
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