Men in corsets and studded heels, a shimmering gold Speedo and orgies abound in the Pauper Players’ fall show.
The scientific and sexual feather boa-fantasy known as “The Rocky Horror Show” premieres tonight at midnight.
Originally a musical that opened in 1973, the 1975 film adaptation, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” developed a formidable cult following.
Amberly Nardo, Janet in the Pauper production, said she’s been nervous about the show because of its notoriety.
“A lot of people coming to the show have seen the movie so many times that they can quote every line and might yell them out,” Nardo said. “I know there’s a lot to live up to.”
Student director Clare Shaffer said the novelty and shock factor of the show drew her to it.
“I saw the film for the first time my freshman year, and I was taken aback by it,” she said. “I remember seeing the first scene when you see Frank as a transvestite and thinking, ‘Oh my God, that guy is a god.’”
Shaffer said the popularity of the production has made it a challenge to direct.
“(It’s) not because I feel a pressure to recreate the movie,” she said.
“If I tried to do that, all I would end up with is a cheap imitation and nothing new.”
But Shaffer said the audience will hear iconic songs and see familiar characters.
“A lot of the characters have been taken in a completely different direction than the movie maybe even intended,” she said.
“Rocky is — creatively — probably my greatest contribution to it.”
Rocky is Dr. Frank ‘n’ Furter’s creation. Though the movie makes Rocky’s character seem stupid, Shaffer said she took a different route.
Max Bitar, who plays Rocky, said he likes Shaffer’s dynamic version of the character.
“We’re really trying to play up the fact that he’s essentially a newborn,” Bitar said. “He’s not necessarily dumb — he’s just learning.”
Catie Poore, the costume designer, said the costumes are corsets and lingerie.
“It’s been a good learning experience trying to lace up a corset on a guy,” she said.
The cast members said the costumes and level of sexuality have made these roles stand out from previous ones.
“I’ve never worn so little clothing — ever,” Bitar said. “I’ve also never done so many risque movements on stage.
“I won’t give it away, but my head goes in a lot of places that it usually doesn’t go.”
Richard Walden, who plays Brad, said the show requires sex-pantomiming, so actors must be comfortable on stage.
“For the majority of the show I’m going to be in my tighty whities,” Walden said. “The sex scene is behind a curtain, but I still have to have sex with a guy on stage, which definitely pushed my comfort zone.”
Shaffer said the theme of lust and sexuality is explicit.
“I’m proud of the orgy (scene) because it took me weeks to make it symmetrical,” she said. “One of the notes I’ve given is, ‘You guys, the orgy’s a little heavy on stage right, could you maybe shift it over? Just make sure you’re rotating.’”
Despite its sexual nature, Bitar said the show also has some serious, emotional undertones.
“Clare made it not all just frivolous and spectacle and sex,” Bitar said.
“She really made sure that we understood that this show has heart.”
Shaffer said audiences should prepare to be shocked, yet impressed.
“It’s a very emotional and a very raw show.”
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Originally published November 8, 2012 in The Daily Tar Heel.