Oh, Rocky! Do the Time Warp again at Oasis' 'Rocky Horror Show'
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The entire Oasis nightclub becomes a stage when a new and innovative production of the venerable The Rocky Horror Show opens on October 7. This latest revival, which runs through Halloween, stars Oasis head honcho D'Arcy Drollinger as the 'sweet transvestite' mad scientist Frank N. Furter, with Snaxx as Columbia, the ultimate groupie, Trixxie Carr as Magenta, and other local talents rounding out the cast. Rocky Horror returns as a co-production between Ray of Light Theater and Oasis.
It's been nearly fifty years since Rocky Horror first premiered on stage at a small theater in London. The property was soon made into a film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), which bombed upon its initial release.
But then the Waverly Theater in New York City came up with the idea of playing the film on Fridays and Saturdays at midnight, and a phenomenon was born. 46 years later, The Rocky Horror Picture Show continues to be screened around the world to a boisterous audience which participates in the action on-screen. Many Rocky Horror fans have seen the film dozens, even hundreds of times.
"For me the reason is the concept of 'Don't dream it, be it,'" Drollinger tells the Bay Area Reporter, referring to one of the show's iconic lines. "To see our anti-hero live their fantasy with such abandon, I think part of all of us wants to have more of that freedom."
Drollinger recalls being shown a Rocky Horror picture book when he was twelve years old. He was, as he puts it, "blown away."
"I'd never seen a drag queen, let alone someone who just really embodied both masculine and feminine, dressing up like that," he said. "It really took me on this journey that I feel like I'm still on. It changed the way I looked at life in a lot of respects. It is also a role that I feel like I've been practicing since I was that little twelve-year-old. So it has a lot of personal meaning to me."
According to Drollinger, the characters of Brad and Janet, the naive young couple who find themselves trapped in Frank N Furter's castle on a dark and stormy night, represent the audience.
"They're the ones that are shocked and scared, and they learn to let go," Drollinger said. "They give in to their base desires. They experience this life they never thought was possible. It sort of does wreck them a little bit, but they are thrust into this glorious debauchery that Frank wields upon everybody."
This isn't Drollinger's first time stepping into the Rocky Horror universe. He has previously done the show five times at the Victoria Theater, always making sure the show was a bit different each time: different sets, different choreography, etc. But this time the show will be presented in a way that the audience might never have seen before.
"We decided to do it as an immersive piece," Drollinger explains. "So it will feel like you're going to a nightclub and watching, with a DJ versus a band. The show will be happening all around. So, there's going to be numbers on stage, we're building this long catwalk, there's going to be different little stages throughout the club. One song happens at the bar, two songs happen in the front room."
In a most unusual move, the beginning of the show will happen three times for three different audiences.
"And then they come into the main room, and they're entertained in this pre-show experience," he said. "And then the rest of the show happens. So I think there's a lot of potential to take what we know as Rocky Horror and turn it into a little more of one of those immersive theater experiences. There will be Rocky Horror everywhere in the club, from the bathrooms, to the lounge, from the front room, to the roof, there will be a Rocky experience everywhere."
Drollinger added that he hopes the usual audience participation happens with this Rocky Horror. He'd like to see the audience dance to the Time Warp, one of the show's iconic numbers.
"It's an all new cast," he said. "We're using people from the Ray of Light world, from the Oasis world, so we are blending the worlds."
In what is perhaps the most unusual move of all, the audience will not be seated.
"We're facing three entrances of sixty people," Drollinger said. "Then that group, once they've filled the room, they can move around the space as they want. The actors will move around with them. They can get a drink, go to the bathroom, just like they would at a nightclub. They're going out to Oasis as a nightclub, and having the story and the world of Rocky Horror exist all around them, from the bartenders to the front door staff, everyone will be in that world."
Drollinger has a message for anyone who —shocking as it may seem— might never have seen Rocky Horror in any edition. Such individuals are referred to as "virgins" by people who are part of the Rocky Horror fandom.
"You're going to have to be de-virginized at some point," he said. "You might as well do it with me as your Frank N Furter, because I'll take you there. This is going to be a really unique experience. Even if you know nothing about the show, this is going to be one of those things where you aren't going to want to have missed it. You can see productions of Rocky Horror after this, and you may have seen many before, but this is going to be a very unique version. I don't think in my knowledge that anyone has ever done this before."
The Rocky Horror Show runs Thursdays-Saturdays, Oct. 7-31, 6:45pm. $30 and up. Oasis, 298 11th St. Proof of vaccination is required to enter the club. Patrons must wear masks unless having a drink. www.sfoasis.com
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