At more than six feet, he sashays onto the stage in a fishnet top, slightly slipping corset, platform heels and spiky pink hair.
In the latest re-incarnation of the Rocky Horror Show lead character and mad scientist Frank-N-Furter works his wacky magic at the No Square Theatre, supported by a cast of 11 fellow actors and directed by Joe Lauderdale.
No Square’s artistic director Bree Burgess Rosen has brought the cult classic back to the small stage at Legion Hall after a five-year hiatus. “We don’t like to repeat anything but there were lots of requests to do it again and it’s still just silly, bawdy, even raunchy fun. Who does not like that?” she said.
The show revolves around an engaged young couple forced to take refuge in a dilapidated castle when their car breaks down. They encounter Frank-N-Furter, a retinue of crazy servants and are drawn into an outré way of life that includes Rocky, a muscle man prancing around in gold skivvies, sex and murder garnished by raunchy mayhem.
Jeff Paul, by day the director of the musical theatre conservatory at the Orange County School for the Arts in Santa Ana, embodies the mad scientist.
Paul, 59, noted that he had never played a role like this. “As an actor, I
am challenged by the physicality and the style of the character. I haven’t done a lot of rock-flavored material, and I’m not much of a dancer, but choreography has disguised that,” he explained.
Ellen Prince gets credit for the choreography; Christopher Smith and Joe Mulroy for vocal and music direction.
“As part of the ensemble, I try anything, high heels, corsets, it’s all part of the fun,” Paul said.
As teacher and role model to young performers facing similar challenges, he advises, “prepare, prepare, prepare. Be part of the ensemble and treat everyone well.”
Rosen said the show is aimed at a broad age range and the cast, starting at age 18, reflects that. It includes recent Laguna Beach High School graduates Bailey Jaeger, Noah Pattilo and Zane Fair,
Jaeger, 18, professes no interest in a stage career, but who will enter her father’s alma mater, Notre Dame University, in the fall majoring in neuroscience. “I’ve always been interested in how the brain works and, for some time had considered criminal psychology or regular psychology,” she said.
While Jaeger had no theater experience in high school, she took advanced chemistry and math and independent chemical research. She credits her mother, a dancer and actress, for instilling a love of singing.
“Bree was my voice teacher when I was a freshman in high school and she gave me confidence to perform. Joining No Square Theatre gave me wings,” she said. The youngest of three siblings, she has shelved her earlier ambition to become both a Broadway star and an inventor–for now.
Meanwhile, Lauderdale and Rosen point out that “they had a grand time throwing money at the old Legion Hall.” The place now holds 100 seats, boasts $12,000 worth of LED lighting and shiny black ceilings, a larger stage, new curtains and other new amenities.
The show, running over three weekends through Aug. 9, will cost $39,000 to produce, including the cost of musicians and royalty payments. Rosen estimates $23,000 in ticket sales.
Middle-aged chronologically but not in spirit, Rosen and Lauderdale label the show that became a cultural phenomenon as PG-14 rated. Audience members are encouraged to come in costume.
Where: No Square Theatre in Legion Hall, 384 Legion St.
When: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 31-Aug. 2, Aug. 7-9, 7:30 p.m.