THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW by Richard O'Brien, directed by Ted Dykstra (CanStage). At the Bluma Appel (27 Front East). Previews from Friday (March 23), runs March 29-April 21. Pwyc-$95. 416-368-3110. Rating: NNNNN
Audience members who prefer to watch theatre safely and quietly alone in the dark, be warned: don't wear a hat to The Rocky Horror Show. If you do, you may need to jump to the left or step to the right to keep cast members from doffing your hat and running their fingers through your hair.
"There's a lot of laughter going on before the show even starts," says director Ted Dykstra. "Eddie Glen comes out like a crazy Cockney usher asking how many Rocky virgins are there." Glen lays the ground rules (no rice, no toast) by threatening all kinds of horrible revenge on those who disobey.
Dress-up props are common, and that surprises some. "Usually, half the audience is rather staid lifelong theatregoers and the other half is transvestites and people dressed up," says Dykstra. "The staid half feel like they're voyeurs, and the other half enjoy making them uncomfortable."
Another surprise is that Richard O'Brien wrote the play in 1973, two years before the more famous film version.
"The movie became so well known because some of it was so bad that it was laughable," says Dykstra, who first saw it at 14. "I was pissed off. There was so much going on in the audience, I couldn't hear the narrator to understand the plot."
Luckily, Dykstra scored veteran actor John Neville to narrate, and filmed his part in black-and-white. Other cast members include Adam Brazier (from Ross Petty's Aladdin) as Frank 'N' Furter and Mad TV's Ron Pederson as Brad.
As a comic, Pederson's probably accustomed to hecklers, but how do stage actors deal with their fourth wall being shaken by people in fishnets and boas shouting out lines?
"If our actors cave in to that, then the audience takes control," says Dykstra. "So the actors won't stop or say anything back - they'll just keep the scene going."
That's good direction from one who's used to wearing fishnets. Dykstra sported them onstage in a local production of Hedwig And The Angry Inch. His thoughts on being a man in mesh?
"I looked a little fat, but I had great legs."
Sounds like this production could, too.