“The Rocky Horor Show” is coming to Kent State

Rebecca Campbell

The set is dark, dim and gothic. The black costumes are risqué.

“The Rocky Horror Show” is coming to Kent State.

The cult classic opens at the E. Turner Stump Theatre Friday with a modern style and a rock music vibe.

Jason Kolbicz plays Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a mad transvestite scientist.

“Don’t expect the [movie],” Jason Kolbicz, junior theatre studies major, said. “The costumes, the set, lighting. It’s all different and modernized, and it’s going to be really great. ”

The interactive rock musical follows the strange story of a young couple, Brad and Janet, who happen upon Dr. Frank-N-Furter and his monster creation, Rocky. Daniel Nadon, director of this performance of “Rocky Horror” and associate professor, said it is mostly based on the original stage musical with only some aspects incorporated from the 1975 film.

“The show has the same characters, gestures, songs and the story line,” Nadon said. “What’s different is that there are a couple scenes that we took out. It has a rock concert feel, which is enhanced with the lights on stage.”

Dates and Tickets

Rocky Horror begins Friday at 8 p.m. and runs through Nov. 11 at the E. Turner Stump Theatre. Tickets are free for undergraduate students, $8 for all other students, $14 for faculty, staff and Alumni Association member, $12 for seniors and $16 for adults.

Musical vs. Film

Nadon said the movie and musical are outdated, and he wanted to modernize the humor. Connor Simpson, senior theatre studies major, plays Eddie, as well as Dr. Scott.

“You come out every night after a run-through and say ‘that was so much fun,’” Simpson said. “You look forward to doing it all over again the next night and experience new things and improvise with everyone on stage.”

During midnight showings of the cult movie, the audience interacts with what is happening onscreen. For Kent State’s production, the audience may buy interactive props in the lobby before the performance.

“We’ve packaged together props for the audience to use,” Nadon said. “Alongside that, [there will] be a list of when and how the interaction takes place. So if someone isn’t familiar with it, they can learn from the packet.”

The director said they will invite audience members to “get the ball rolling” before the show and go over responses and reactions to certain scenes.

“The verbal responses are undertaken by those who know the script,” Nadon said in an email. “But, some people will catch on and join in.”

The new $15 arts fee paid by all undergraduate students allowed costumes to have additional flair. Kara Tesch, graduate student in the School of Theatre and Dance, said it was easier to design costumes for “Rocky Horror” compared to other shows.

“It’s been great because in the past they’re like ‘here’s $80, make it work,’” Tesch said. “With the fee, it has increased our budget and we can do more things and put on a nicer looking show.”

What’s different between the movie and musical?

-New modern, cutting edge style

-Some scenes were nixed because they’re too complex to show on stage

-Actors are allowed to improvise and add comedic bits

-The character, Rocky, has lines

-The Phantoms are not dressed in drag and are always on stage

-Costumes are more risqué

-Lights are used to effect a “rock concert feel”

-Kits have been made for interactive audience participation

The Actors

Nadon said the actors are encouraged to make the characters their own while retaining some facets of the character’s movie version. Kolbicz described his character as the “diva of the show,” because his character is the “mastermind.”

“It’s different for sure,” Kolbicz said. “I’ve never played the lead before, so having that responsibility is a lot. It’s been a lot fun. The cast is great, and we’re basically playing around and belting our hearts out. It’s definitely something Kent State hasn’t done before.”

Kolbicz said he’s been preparing for the role since February and learned certain songs in hopes of playing the character. He said since landing the part, his training has been “balls to the walls and no holding back.”

“The most challenging thing about the show is getting used to the fact that we have to be comfortable with each other so quickly because the show is just so sexual,” Kolbicz said. “When we started rehearsals, it was like ‘drop your barriers and just do it.’ There are a lot of sexual energies in this show.”

Simpson said it was a new experience singing in a rock style without damaging his voice.

Matt Coplai, freshman theatre studies major, will play Rocky. He said it is challenging trying “to keep the energy up” because the show is very physical.

Why “Rocky Horror”?

A committee of directors in the College of the Arts, set designers and student actors chose the show. The director said he was looking for a show that was “full of audience participation.”

“Everyone can come and have a good time to see a rock concert vibe and heavy choreography,” Nadon said. “But mainly it’s picked to find opportunities for students in the musical theater department to have a good musical every semester. It’s student-driven, mostly.”

Kolbicz said he is excited to bring a unique show to Kent State.

“I think for a lot of us, it was unexpected to have this show come to Kent,” Kolbicz said. “This is not something Kent normally does. It’s normally the old school musical that they modernize. But, doing something like this is out-of-the-box for Kent.”

Contact Rebecca Campbell at [email protected] .