Originally created 10/25/02

'Rocky Horror' revamped for another rockin' time



The Augusta Theatre Company is preparing to do the Time Warp- again.

The company first staged The Rocky Horror Show, a rock-and-raunch musical about space, time and the lustful appetites of mad scientists, last year. It was so successful that Rocky is being brought back, albeit in a revamped form.

"It was actually a very hard decision to come back and do this again," said Augusta Theatre Company artistic director James Worth. "The board and I sat down and discussed it for a long time."

Mr. Worth said he was initially uncomfortable with revisiting territory the company had so recently explored. However, because Rocky substantially increased the company's coffers last year, Mr. Worth agreed to stage it again - with some substantial changes. The company's previous set was based on design elements culled from classic movie house designs, while the current set is more expressionistic, with cockeyed angles and sweeping staircases.

"I'm sort of visiting (Frankenstein director) James Whale and Dr. Caligari and (Beetlejuice director) Tim Burton this time," Mr. Worth said. "I wanted something totally different. I wanted to make sure that if I was going to do this again, it wouldn't be the same production."

Other changes have included recasting several key roles and finding a new musical icon to skewer.

"Last year we had some fun with The Wizard of Oz and this year we're paying tribute to Richard Rodgers on his 100th birthday," Mr. Worth said with a mischievous smile. "And I promise you, we are paying him the deepest of respects."

Returning in the pivotal role of Frank-n-Furter is Robert Seawell. This year however, he will share the part with Gary Dennis.

"Robert created the role last year and that was great," Mr. Worth said. "But we had this new actor coming to the company, and I wanted to see what he could do. Also, Robert gave up a lot to do this last year, jobs and money, and I didn't feel like I could ask him to do that again."

Mr. Dennis said approaching such an iconic role and sharing it with someone who had already played the part was a little intimidating.

"I knew the only way to do it was to be totally into the character," he said. "You can't be half a Frank, so for eight weeks I had to be a transvestite. I still found going to pick the wardrobe tough, though. I mean, I don't have a lot of experience picking out corsets."

The ingenue role of Janet Weiss also was recast. Lizzie Grant, who plays the role in the current production, said she had never seen the movie before accepting the part, but that Mr. Worth's insistence on a fresh take on the material relieved a lot of the pressure.

"I felt much more comfortable knowing that this did not have to be exactly like what had been done before. I wasn't really sure what to do with this character, but the whole thing has been revamped, and I've really been able to make the character my own."

Mr. Worth said that although the Augusta Theatre Company has staged Rocky Horror two years in a row, breaking out the fish-nets and falsies will not be an annual event.

"I don't want this to become our Nutcracker," he said. "We shall not revisit this next year and will not visit Rocky for some time after this. I'm not saying we won't come back to it in the future, but it will be several years."

ON STAGE

WHAT: The Rocky Horror Show presented by the Augusta Theatre Company

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. today and Nov. 1, 2 and 8; 8 p.m. Oct. 26 and Nov. 9; 3 p.m. Oct 27, Nov. 2 and Nov. 9; midnight Oct. 31 and Nov. 2.

WHERE: The Bon Air Hotel Ballroom, 2101 Walton Way

ADMISSION: $20, $12 for matinee performances. Call 481-9040.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.