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‘Rocky Horror’ character Frank-ly makes case for comfort in one’s skin

Riff Raff (Jesse Lessner, left), Columbia (Clarissa Bawarski, front center) and Magenta (Amanda Joseph, right) support the grand entrance of Dr. Frank N. Furter (Josh Dobbin), the proprietor of a house of horrors that greets innocent newlyweds on a dark and stormy night in "The Rocky Horror Show," the SUNY Oswego music and theatre departments' production running Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 14 and 15.

Riff Raff (Jesse Lessner, left), Columbia (Clarissa Bawarski, front center) and Magenta (Amanda Joseph, right) support the grand entrance of Dr. Frank N. Furter (Josh Dobbin), the proprietor of a house of horrors that greets innocent newlyweds on a dark and stormy night in "The Rocky Horror Show," the SUNY Oswego music and theatre departments' production running Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 14 and 15.

OSWEGO — The SUNY Oswego music and theatre departments welcome to the stage the cross-dressing scientist Dr. Frank N. Furter in “The Rocky Horror Show,” which runs 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 14 and 15 in the Hewitt Union ballroom.

The bawdy horror-comedy dealing with sexual themes is recommended for mature audiences only.

Riff Raff (Jesse Lessner, left), Columbia (Clarissa Bawarski, front center) and Magenta (Amanda Joseph, right) support the grand entrance of Dr. Frank N. Furter (Josh Dobbin), the proprietor of a house of horrors that greets innocent newlyweds on a dark and stormy night in "The Rocky Horror Show," the SUNY Oswego music and theatre departments' production running Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 14 and 15.
Riff Raff (Jesse Lessner, left), Columbia (Clarissa Bawarski, front center) and Magenta (Amanda Joseph, right) support the grand entrance of Dr. Frank N. Furter (Josh Dobbin), the proprietor of a house of horrors that greets innocent newlyweds on a dark and stormy night in “The Rocky Horror Show,” the SUNY Oswego music and theatre departments’ production running Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 14 and 15.

Senior music major Joshua Dobbin entertains the audience in female attire: stockings, a corset and high heels.

He plays main antagonist Frank N. Furter, introduced in the 1973 Richard O’Brien play, which became an audience-participation cult classic after the film version, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” premiered in 1975.

“I had no intentions of auditioning for the show until a friend suggested that my voice had matched the character of Frank N. Furter,” said Dobbin.

In the storyline, the “sweet transvestite” from Transsexual, Transylvania, showcases his new creation, Rocky, to serve as his plaything.

“This character really sets a precedent,” Dobbin said. “With Frank N. Furter’s carefree attitude, he proves that one can be comfortable in their own skin with their sexuality or whom they identify themselves as.”

Deeper theme

The play revolves around innocent newlyweds Janet and Brad and their encounter on a dark and stormy night with the maniacal scientist and his houseful of wacky characters cut from the B horror movie genre.

Despite his playful air, Frank N. Furter delivers a message on a deeper level about sexual liberation.

The time period that author O’Brien grew up in — an era that began a dramatic change in society’s mindset about homosexuality — would lead to the script and lyrics for “The Rocky Horror Show.”

“The mad scientist uses his dark humor to address LGBT issues in a clever way that gives the audience a chance to be open-minded to issues relating to alternative lifestyles,” said Dobbin.

Among the songs that Dobbin and other cast members will perform is “The Floor Show,” where lyrics such as “Don’t dream it, be it” emphasize individuality and self-love.

“Buried underneath the makeup, he encourages people to stick to what makes them happy. He makes it a reality to be you,” Dobbin said of the character.

Winning this controversial role may have been seen as difficult for Dobbin, but it actually was an opportunity to enhance his acting skills.

“Because people don’t understand, they disapprove,” said Dobbin. “This challenged my bravery. In rehearsals I never held back. Frank N. Furter helped me come out of my shell.”

The student cast includes Megan VanVorce as Janet Weiss, Anthony Sagrestano as Brad Major, Jesse Lessner as Riff Raff, Amanda Joseph as Magenta, Clarissa Bawarski as Columbia and Nicholas Cocks as the narrator.

Jonel Langenfeld of the SUNY Oswego theater department directs the play; Todd Graber, chair of the music department, serves as musical director; and Jessica Hester, theater chair, is the producer.

Other faculty and staff members of the crew include production manager and technical director Sean Culligan; Ola Kraszpulska, scenic designer; costume designer Kitty Macey; Judy McCabe, costume shop supervisor; properties manager Jessica Culligan; Suzayn Mackenzie-Roy, stage manager mentor; and Gregory Brewster, lighting designer, sound design mentor and master electrician manager.

SUNY Oswego student crew members include Kellie McMenemon (stage manager), Miranda Coll (house manager), Rachael Kepler (sound designer), Alyssa Scruton (wardrobe chief), Royshanna Young (makeup lead), Quentin Mariano (master electrician), Cheyenne Bonnewell (master carpenter), Elizabeth Warner (light board operator) and Remington Fiscus (projection operator).

Taylor Hamer, a senior at Oswego High School, served as the production’s choreographer.

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.