Let’s do the time warp again: Batavia Players tackling ‘The Rocky Horror Show’

Oct 2, 2019

© Mark Gutman/Daily News Shaun Coburn, Liam Crawford and Steven Larkin.

Let’s do the time warp again!

Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Brad and Janet, and all their assorted counterparts from Transsexual Transylvania will return this weekend as The Batavia Players perform The Rocky Horror Show for the first time. Director Michele Stamp said the theater group was looking for something easy to do which will have a huge draw, and noted The Rocky Horror Show’s sizable cult following.

“We knew we wanted to end the year with a show that could bring in money,” she said. “We drew in people from Buffalo and Rochester in the cast.”

The Rocky Horror Show is the tale of straight-laced Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, who become stranded after a tire blows out on their car. They’re forced to spend the evening in Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s castle as he creates Rocky, a good-looking — if dim-witted — creation.

Dr. Frank-N-Furter is played by Liam Crawford, a 17-year-old from Bliss, and it’s his first leading role.

“He’s rocking it,” Stamp said. “I’m very pleased with his performance. Once he got his costume on, he inhabited the role.”

She said Crawford needed to fight for it because she wasn’t going to allow a 17-year-old to be in the production, but he came and auditioned, putting a lot of prep work into it. Playing the titular Rocky Horror is Shaun Coburn. Before doing the show for the Batavia Players, he hadn’t seen the stage production but went to see the 2016 remastered version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show — the musical’s movie version — with his girlfriend, who is also in the show. He said seeing it for the first time is a bit of an eye opener, especially if you are going to be in it.

Rocky is the creation of Dr. Frank-N-Furter and Coburn described him as a newborn in an adult’s body.

“He has no idea what is going on. He’s just a big, loveable idiot for most of the show,” he said. “It’s definitely different from anything else I’ve done before.”

The creepy butler Riff Raff is played by Steven Larkin, who was introduced to the show by one of his friends who also does theater.

“I had known ‘The Time Warp’, the song from the show, for forever,” he said. “It just never clicked it was part of this musical. Once I did find out, I was like, ‘What? I need to be this character. I need to sing this song.’”

Larkin got the role he wanted, and described Riff Raff as one of Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s servants — A mysterious character who plays off the Igor trope and flips that stereotype on its head.

While he had researched his role online, it wasn’t until halfway through rehearsals did he sit down for the 2015 London performance of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Larkin said he immediately fell in love with it.

Mark Eckstein plays Dr. Everett V. Scott. The Rocky Horror Show isn’t his first production with the Batavia Players, nor is it the first time he has been exposed to the show. A huge fan since he was exposed to it when he was right out of college in the 1970s, he said he always thought it would be fun to appear in it.

Dr. Scott is a German scientist who is both fascinated and appalled at what he finds at Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s castle.

“His curiosity as a scientist and his disgust at the decadent lifestyle being led there, and his concern for his nephew who has been dragged into that, are constantly in conflict with one another,” Eckstein said.

He said he loves the fact that The Rocky Horror Show is a wonderfully absurd production that sends up the old science fiction movies of the 1950s in a not terribly sophisticated way with catchy music.

The narrator is performed by James Barcomb, who pops in throughout the show to catch the audience up on what’s happening. He had been part of Batavia Players productions in the past and wanted to be part of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, already having watched the movie a couple of times. Barcomb said ever since he saw the movie, he’s been fascinated with the show.

“I really enjoy doing crazy, over the top productions,” he said. “Those tend to be my favorite.”

Stamp said she believes it has a huge cult following because it is so campy and silly. The show is a science fiction-comedy-horror-drama-musical. It came out as a stage production first before it became a movie in 1975, which wasn’t well-received initially.

But it ultimately became a midnight movie people could simply enjoy without worrying about anything. Since then a culture of heckling has evolved around the show where the audience adds to things the characters are saying.

“I think it’s just fun,” Stamp said. “I think it is more of an interactive production.”

Eckstein has been part of the group helping the younger members of the cast get used to the heckling they might hear from the audience. Larkin said seeing the audience being a part of the show by heckling the characters on stage, the energy bounces off each other.

Kathy White, music director, and Brianna Kelly, choreography director, worked with the actors to teach them how to dance in corsets and high heels which Stamp said was not easy; choreographing everything took three weeks and the rehearsal run was seven weeks.

“So it was a very time period for them to become accustomed the songs and the dancing,” she said.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show will be playing at the Harvester 56 Theater on Oct. 4, 5, 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 6 and 13 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for students and seniors. They can be purchased online at www.DailyNewsTickets.com or at the Harvester 56 Theater box office.

©Mark Gutman/Daily News Stephen Vanvalkenburg, Lexi Brown and Doug Carlsen

By Mallory Diefenbach, Batavia Daily News