Better Than Ever

Better Than Ever

APT pours new life in to ‘Rocky Horror’


There’s an old adage about dogs: Everybody thinks theirs is the best. And nobody is wrong.

The same might be said of productions of “The Rocky Horror Show.” From basic to high-tech, every version is the best. And nobody is wrong about that.

Way back in 2001, Ed McClure directed a production of “The Rocky Horror Show” for a fledgling professional company in Fayetteville called Ozark StageWorks. It had prerecorded music, a red and black set with borrowed restaurant chairs, slimy body parts in jars — and a cast of actors mostly never heard from again.

Two years ago, McClure directed a production at Arkansas Public Theatre that was obviously flashier than that. Oh, but this year. This year’s incarnation, which opened Friday, has all the bells and whistles of Broadway — computer enhanced lighting, every kind of projection from a rainstorm to celebrity narrators working in tandem with on-stage narrator Matthew Etris plus the continued talents of music director Lisa Auten, who is leading her 50th live band for APT.

It’s arguably the best — but that’s not why.

“‘Rocky Horror’ is so important because it exposes humans to the oddities of life and how those moments of confusion and intrigue make our experiences on this planet more beautifully complex,” says Michael Myers, who is reprising his 2017 role as Dr. Frank N. Furter. “For a moment in time, less than two hours, you get transported to castle full of the most bizarre creatures you could ever encounter — and you love every minute of it.”

“It attracts some people who may be a little more conservative, looking to broaden their horizons,” says Randall Lothes, new to the role of Riff-Raff. “And then it attracts people who are more liberal and just love to experience something new. Some people see it as a little naughty — and some people just see it as fun.”

“The songs are amazing, the characters are truly unique yet somehow relatable, and the sci-fi aspect is also a lot of fun,” says Kailey Miller, who is playing Magenta this time. “I think ‘Rocky Horror’ is just so weird that people love that they can be just as weird while watching it and singing along.”

“This show is a cult classic for many reasons,” adds Ben Baldwin, new to the role of Brad Majors. “It has catchy music that is easy to remember and that the audience usually sings. It has wild and over-the-top characters that are hilarious — with great, quotable lines. It has a fantastic audience participation element with one of the most iconic songs in all of movies — ‘The Time Warp.’”

“It’s fun and it’s risqué, and it allows you an escape into this over-the-top world that we don’t ordinarily get to indulge in on a daily basis,” agrees Jalyn Nicole Simms, new to the role of Janet. “It’s freeing.”

And nobody is wrong. That’s why McClure decided to reprise the show, almost exactly two years after it was on the APT stage.

“We have just had so much demand,” he says with some wonder. “And we aim to please.”

The cast is a mix of veterans from 2017 and newcomers, and that suits McClure, too.

“New actors breathe new life into any production — and returning actors breathe new life into a returning performance,” he says. “It’s always fun and exciting finding new things and new ways to do things.

“This cast is rock solid, and I love the velocity with which they brought this production together.”

Reprising the role of Trixie, an usherette, Sarah Mouritsen opens the show with her strong voice and big presence, walking down the aisle of the theater to “Science Fiction, Double Feature.” It’s the beginning of a roller-coaster ride of singing and dancing and wacky phantoms and Rocky (Jacob Andrews) in shiny gold briefs and Cody Robinson making Meatloaf proud as Eddie. No matter which way you look, there’s something new to see and something familiar to enjoy.

Why is it the best? Baldwin just might have the answer.

“This show gives people permission to be whoever they are and want to be,” he says. “There are no apologies. When you watch this show, you want to be a character in it. ‘Rocky Horror’ is freedom in its truest form.”



‘The Rocky Horror Show’

WHEN — 8 p.m. Sept. 19-21; 2 p.m. Sept. 22; again Sept. 26-29

WHERE — Arkansas Public Theatre in Rogers

COST — $30-$42

INFO — 631-8988,

BONUS — “Men With Earrings” by Eureka Springs photographer John Rankine is on show in the Zephyr Blevins Gallery.

Categories: Cover Story