I see you shiver with antici…pation

Fishnets, sky-high heels, corsets and glitter—lots and lots of glitter. That’s what dreams are made of. Or at least, such is the case for fans of The Rocky Horror Show. Yet for the British cult-play, which has been adapted all over the world since its inception in the early ‘70s, the sexy get-ups are just the beginning.
This Halloween weekend, the show, reinterpreted from its Broadway revival in 2000, is bringing the outlandishness and hilarity that fans glorify it for to the stage of the Rialto Theatre.
“When you look at this really imposing architecture and how classy it looks, off the bat, you wouldn’t immediately say that it would fit with Rocky, that the two characters would clash,” said Rialto communications director Michaela Di Cesare. “I think this is gonna make an interesting partnership.”
And she’s right. The Rialto, with its cream-coloured booths, golden accents, and stage curtain-red walls, is the postcard-perfect iteration of a turn of the century theatre. It may not seem immediately obvious, but with its glamour and mysteriousness in tow, it’s the perfect setting for the show.
As local Rocky Horror fans know, in the past, the theatre has housed the annual Halloween showings of its film adaptation. This year, they’re taking things on a different route with a full cast, an orchestra, and plenty of that good old Transylvanian enthusiasm to boot.
“The plot stays exactly the same. The show isn’t 100 per cent identical, but it’s more the exception, not the rule,” said cast member Claire Hughes, who plays one of the phantoms (that’s the Transylvanians, for the Rocky film buffs out there). “So occasionally you’ll catch something and be like ‘Oh, that line isn’t in the movie,’ or you’ll see one or two songs and be like ‘Hey, that’s added in!’ But it’s not like there are huge gaping plot holes that are different or added characters or anything like that.”
Said changes include added dance numbers and songs, as well as a costume upgrade (“kind of dark, ghoulish, corset-fishnet type look,” said Hughes) for the phantoms.
The Rocky Horror Show follows the story of Brad and Janet, a lovey-dovey couple who have just gotten engaged. They get caught in a frightful storm in the middle of a forest one night, and so they seek help at a mansion, where they are met by the show’s most notorious character, Dr. Frank-N-Furter (who comes from the planet Transsexual, in the galaxy of Transylvania, in case you were wondering). He introduces them to a world of debauchery, excitement and unbounded pleasure. Oh, and he also gets them to dance the Time Warp.
With the show’s cult following, it’s easy to see why taking it on might be a little intimidating. But Hughes says all it takes is the right kind of folk for that feeling to go away.
“We have a lot of people who are really, really enthusiastic about it, so I think even though it’s daunting to do something like that justice, we have the right kind of people on board who are very familiar with the concept and want to do it justice,” she said.
The shows are notorious for their initiation of first-time goers (with the tamest of rituals being drawing a V on their foreheads), but Rocky virgins need not fear their first time at the Rialto show.
“We know that there might be some first-timers, so we’re creating packages […] All the props that they will need will be wrapped in a lovely little fishnet stocking, and we might give them a bit of a script for lines to call out. So first-timers will feel right at home, we’re gonna hold their hand for the entire experience,” said Di Cesare.
“Not literally, because in such a sexy show that might get weird,” she added.
There will be no such restrictions on stage, as the play is known for getting rather handsy. On top of that, this production is taking a rather physical approach to its stage set-up.
“For a lot of it, we actually physically create the set with our bodies,” explained Hughes. “So when they come up to the door and they knock on the door, we are actually creating a wall and a door that opens made of people. And with little people gargoyles, and things like that. And the machines that they use are actually made of us. So, it sounds a little out there, but it comes together really well. The set is still beautiful, but we create a lot of the moving set pieces.”
The Rialto is hosting a Halloween party every night after the showing, complete with door prizes, the fully functional Rialto bar, a live band, fortune tellers, jugglers, and a house DJ. This is to give audiences an experience with what Di Cesare dubbed as the “Rialto twist.”
“You’re free to be yourself, to actually wear a costume. You’re not gonna be scrunched up like a sardine in a club with too many other people,” she said.
This bodes well with the message of the show, the simple but resonant maxim of “Don’t dream it. Be it.”
“It’s just about being yourself, and enjoying the sensuality and pleasures of life […] And especially on Halloween, telling someone ‘indulge in your sensual pleasures, if you have something you wanna do, do it, if you have something you wanna be, be it,’ I think that’s a good message,” said Hughes. “We’re leaving it all out on the stage.” 

The Rocky Horror Show runs at the Rialto Theatre, 5723 Avenue du Parc, Oct. 29-31 at 8:30 p.m. Student tickets are $20. The after-parties begin at 10:30 p.m. on performance nights. For more information and tickets, go to www.theatrerialto.ca.


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