'The Rocky Horror Show' Comes to Life at UH

This isn't your mother's "Rocky Horror Show." When the University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance presents this sexually charged musical smash Oct. 23 - Nov. 1, expect an all new "Rocky" with all of the charisma of the original stage production ... but slightly more sinful.

"We will show some skin," said director Paul Hope. "I gave our costume designer Clair Hummel instructions to go slightly risqué with the wardrobe, and she came through."

"The Rocky Horror Show", a revival favorite, returns musicals to the Wortham Theatre. This will be the first song and dance show to be included in the school's performance season in more than a decade, said Hope. For audiences, "The Rocky Horror Show" will be worth the wait.

"There is a lot of excitement over here," said Hope, a UH alumnus. "The cast is certainly prepared to deliver a professional caliber show."

Joining Hope's capable cast will be a live six-piece band directed by UH alumnus and veteran conductor Art Yelton. Former Houston Ballet principal and esteemed dancer Krissy Richmond is overseeing the show's choreography.

Many audiences are familiar with the wildly popular film adaptation of the play, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." That movie's cult fan base grew from audiences' participation at midnight screenings (shouting during certain scenes, throwing confetti, wearing costumes). While the film became a side note to the antics in the aisles, the UH production will take center stage. Hope said that such raucous audience interactions will not be a part of this play, but the audience will be encouraged to participate on a smaller scale, lead by cue cards from the stage and a group of trained student hecklers. Participation kits will be sold at the box office for $5 and include the props necessary to take part in the onstage spectacle.

"If you've seen the film, expect something very different," Hope said. "There won't be wall to wall mayhem in the audience, but fans will definitely be energized by what's happening on stage."

Theatre-goers are encouraged to wear costumes during the play's Halloween performance. At 10:15 p.m., Oct. 31, a costume contest will take place in the Wortham Theatre (prior to that night's 11 p.m. show).

The play follows all-American couple Brad and Janet as they encounter transvestite mad scientist Frank N. Furter and a host of other eccentric and ghoulish, yet erotic, characters. With a rock-based score, the play pays homage to classic sci-fi and horror films while dissecting middle America's repressed sexuality.

Show times are 8 p.m., Oct. 23, 24, 29, 30, 31 and Nov. 1; 2 p.m., Oct. 25; and 11 p.m., Oct. 31 in UH's Wortham Theatre (inside the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts - Entrance 16 off of Cullen Boulevard). Tickets are $20; $15 for faculty, staff and alumni; and $10 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets, call 713-743-2929. For more details, visit http://www.theatredance.uh.edu/.

Due to explicit language and sexuality, no one under the age of 14 will be admitted to this production.

Written by Richard O'Brien, the original production of "The Rocky Horror Show" premiered in London in 1973. A hit with U.K. fans, the musical came to America in 1974 for a two-night stint at the famed rock club The Roxy Theatre and an ill-fated run on Broadway in 1975.

In spite of a disastrous reaction from Broadway critics, the play was adapted as the 1975 film "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." As a commercial release, the movie was a flop. When it began to run as a midnight movie, audience interest piqued. Ultimately, the film developed a massive following that continues to this day.

"When it first appeared on stage and on screen, ‘Rocky' was shocking," Hope said. "The movie actually seems a little tame now, so my goal is not only to deliver a fantastic show, but to throw the audience for a loop. I want everyone to be just as stunned by our production as those early audiences were in London and at movie theaters."

The UH School of Theatre & Dance offers bachelor's and master's degrees in theater and teacher certifications in dance. Its graduate program consists of a master of arts in theater and masters of fine arts in theater with specializations in acting, directing and design. Each fall and spring, the school produces five plays performed in the Wortham Theatre and the Jose Quintero Theatre, two dance concerts, four graduate directing projects, two Theatre for Young Audiences plays and the Houston Shakespeare Festival each summer. The school has benefitted from notable star faculty such as Lanford Wilson, Sir Peter Hall and Jose Quintero. Among its faculty are Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee, Tony Award-winning playwright Mark Medoff, Tony Award-winning producer Stuart Ostrow and Broadway dramaturg Mark Bly. For details on UH's School of Theatre & Dance, visit www.theatredance.uh.edu.