OSWEGO — SUNY Oswego’s theatre and music departments will treat Halloween-time audiences to six performances of the campy, sci-fi horror musical “The Rocky Horror Show” in a reconfigured Hewitt Union ballroom.
Curtain time will be 7:30 p.m. on three Fridays and Saturdays — Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, Nov. 7 and 8, and Nov. 14 and 15 — for Richard O’Brien’s 1973 play, which has had a cult following since the film version, titled “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” premiered in 1975. There is no preview or matinee for the college’s play, and the performance is suggested for ages 16 and over.
The production’s comical and wacky storyline pays tribute to the rock ‘n’ roll music of the ’50s. The play follows innocent newlyweds Janet and Brad, who come across a castle on stormy night and encounter transvestite Dr. Frank-N-Furter, his creation Rocky and an assortment of other crazy characters.
With Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre closed for renovations, the theatre and music departments will stage the play in a ballroom set up to put cast and crew to the test.
“Although our resources are limited, we plan on providing a theatrical experience by creating a thrust stage,” said Jonel Langenfeld, the play’s director and an associate professor in the theatre department.
A thrust stage extends into the audience on three sides. Not only does this configuration allow the audience members to see the performance from different angles, it also gives them the opportunity to feel as though they are part of the play.
The space works in hand with the audience participation that “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” has made popular with cult audiences for decades.
Theatregoers will have the opportunity to purchase, for $4, participation bags that will have props such as toilet paper, confetti, party hats and more.
The student theatre organization, Blackfriars, is putting the packets together as a fundraiser.
Senior theatre major Kellie McMenemon, student stage manager for “The Rocky Horror Show,” said the stage challenged the play’s crew.
“Our scenic design (team) took this opportunity to think outside the box and design a stage that has a somewhat of a runway feel,” she said.
Live theatre, film
The new venue allows the theatre and music departments to create their own version of “The Rocky Horror Show” with a live orchestra, a blend of film and live theatre and changing scenes from the castle to an old movie theatre.
“We as theatre students are learning to adapt,” McMenemon said. “You aren’t always guaranteed the same exact space. So being in Hewitt this year has forced us to get even more creative.”
Langenfeld said because the large windows in the ballroom make it difficult in daytime to convey “the underground feeling” that the play presents, there will be no Sunday matinee to conclude “The Rocky Horror Show.”
Before each show, audience members — particularly newcomers — to “Rocky Horror’s” participatory elements will receive a brief tutorial. It will include how to use the packet materials, what lines they can call out in response to the action, and how to dance the “Time Warp.”
Cast members include Joshua Dobbin (Frank-N-Furter), Megan VanVorce (Janet Weiss), Anthony Sagrestano (Brad Major), Jesse Lessner (Riff Raff), Amanda Joseph (Magenta), Clarissa Bawarski (Columbia), Antonio Ortega (Eddie), Jared Gould (Dr. Scott), Spencer Ventresca (Rocky) and Nicholas Cocks (narrator).
The performance is suggested for mature audiences due to filmed shadow scenes of intimacy and scantily clad actors on stage, Langenfeld said.
Tickets are $15 for general admission ($7 for SUNY Oswego students with valid ID) and are available at all SUNY Oswego box offices, online at tickets.oswego.edu and by phone at 315-312-2141.
Parking is included in the price of a ticket, and is available in the lots in front and to the east of Culkin Hall.
People with disabilities needing assistance should call 315-312-2141 in advance of the performance.