Published September 16, 2019 | By Adrienne Proctor
Cult classic The Rocky Horror Show makes a long-awaited return to Lyric’s Plaza Theatre! Shiver with anticipation no more. Lyric Theatre only does this show every 3 years, and luckily, it’s on in 2019! Rocky Horror has a following like no other, with an ability to raise the freak flags in even the demurest fans. Case in point: yours truly is planning to wear a corset and purple eyelashes to the show on opening weekend!
Rocky Horror is nearly nonsensical in the looseness of the plot. However, there’s a true perfection in it that can’t be found in any other theatrical experience. The Rocky Horror Show just fills a particular void, and that’s what makes it so popular. It’s a release from daily life and gives us a chance to truly embrace, accept, and daresay even love, ourselves and each other. Surprisingly, the 1974 stage play came first, a year before the iconic movie. Though he starred in both the London and Broadway productions, the movie in particular served to canonize Tim Curry as the sweet transvestite we all know and love, Dr. Frank-N-Furter. With book, music, and lyrics by Richard O’Brien (aka Riff-Raff in the original production and film), The Rocky Horror Show invites patrons on a strange journey. It takes you into the world of science fiction, B movies, and all the over-the-top campiness of the 1970s.
The titular character, Rocky Horror, is a lab-created Frankenstein type muscle-man, clad with blond hair, a tan, and the world’s most iconic pair of gold short shorts. Haulston Mann returns to play Rocky, as he did in Lyric’s 2016 production.
He was gracious enough to take time out of rehearsal and role prep to answer a fun Q&A for me below:
AP: Tell us about playing Rocky Horror! What’s most exciting about returning to Lyric Theatre for this role?
Mann: To me this show is as close to a clown show as I’ve been in since studying clowning in college. It has a cast of heightened characters in absurd situations, and it’s rooted in being present and working off the audience. You never know what callbacks they’re going to throw at you on any given night, and breaking the fourth wall and interacting with them makes each performance special and fun in its own way. I often tell people that my first run as Rocky was some of the most fun I’ve ever had on stage, and that’s because everyone in the theatre- actors, audience, musicians, is in communion with one another. It makes it hard for folks to passively sit back and zone out. I think that’s exactly the experience theatre should provide now that we’re in the age of Netflix.
AP: The Rocky Horror Show is iconic, with a loyal following that has spanned generations. What do you hope long-time, and brand new, fans of Rocky Horror will get to experience during this production?
Mann: My favorite thing about The Rocky Horror Show is that it was shown all over the nation, even in some of the smallest towns. And those screenings were places where EVERYONE was welcomed. It didn’t matter your sexual preference, identity, whatever. A screening of RHPS was a place where you could go and be YOU. I hope that long-time fans can tie those memories of being accepted to our production, and that the Virgins can also find that same spirit of acceptance.
AP: How old were you when you first watched Rocky Horror? What was your initial take on it? And has your opinion changed since?
Mann: I saw it when I was about 16 at a friend’s house. I’d just discovered theatre and I thought that it looked so fun, even though I didn’t know what the hell was happening towards the end. But I never thought that I’d perform in it! Musicals were never really my focus, so I was actually very grateful to earn the experience of getting to perform as Rocky at Lyric in 2016! It’s now one of the only musicals I audition for regularly!
AP: Most importantly! Are you ready to be (almost) naked on stage!? What is that like? Scary? Exciting? All of the above!?
Mann: Honestly, when I’m on stage and in character, it’s no different than any other costume. Once it’s go time, I don’t let myself think about it. The difference is the prep and maintenance work I do before and during the show. Thankfully, Lyric gave me several months’ notice when they made the offer, so I had plenty of time to structure a cut program to get a physique worthy of donning the golden undies.
The Rocky Horror Show also stars Eric Ulloa as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Emily Pace as Janet, Antonio Rodriguez as Brad, Elvie Ellis as Riff-Raff, and Janna Linae Schmid as Columbia. Kat Metcalfe is Magenta/usherette, Matthew Alvin Brown is Eddie/Dr. Scott, Brett Young serves as Narrator, and Kylan L. Durant, Marcus Canada, Brooke Melton, and Alexis Lanzo are Phantoms.
Lyric’s Rocky Horror is directed by J. Robert Moore and choreographed by Hui Cha Poos. Brian Hamilton serves as music director. Lighting design is by Fabian J. Garcia, set design by Jon Young, costume design by Armando Ortiz, and sound design by J. Grover Holloway. Laurena Sherrill is production stage manager.