Stock up on toast and water pistols. Next week, the Short North Stage is inviting attendees to do the time warp again and again and again.
The Rocky Horror Show will premiere Sept. 26 at the Garden Theater of the Short North Stage, and for the second consecutive year, the musical will run for more than six weeks due to popular demand.
After extending the show three times last year, the staff decided to plan ahead and schedule six weeks of performances this year.
The musical follows a newly-engaged couple who seeks refuge in the home of mad transvestite scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter after being caught in a storm. The prudish protagonists arrive just in time for the unveiling of the doctor’s newest creation: a hunky boyfriend.
Artistic director Edward Carignan said the show has gained a loyal cult following through the years.
“It has a universal acceptance,” Carignan said. “Acceptance of weirdos, specifically. I think it sort of gives permission for everyone to have that evening out where they get to be a little exotic and over-the-top and for all of that to be totally normal within the confines of the show.”
The Rocky Horror Show has been a hit since its first performance in 1973, but lead actor Nick Hardin said what separates the show from a traditional play is how much it allows for audience involvement.
“It really does carry that message of, ‘Let your freak flag fly,’ a little bit,” Hardin said. “I think the really interesting thing about the audience members is that this show allows the audience to take on their own character in the show and really become a part of the show.”
While the show encourages the audience to embrace its peculiarity, Hardin said the show is “not for the faint of heart.”
“It’s pretty profane,” he said.
The audience immerses itself in the show and some even come dressed as the characters, Hardin said.
“Last year, there was a gentleman who, in the first act I believe, was dressed as a French maid, and then at intermission he changed costumes and came back as Frank-N-Furter in the scrubs,” Hardin said. “It’s like that level of intense. I mean, people are obsessed with it.”
Carignan said that while he doesn’t believe in the actors bothering the audience, the show is unique because the audience actually bothers the actors.
He added that in order to get the audience even more involved, the theater sells participation bags that have things for the audience to throw on stage, as well as flashlights they can use during certain parts of the show.
Audience interaction is a deeply ingrained tradition of the Rocky Horror Show experience. Attendees often throw things onstage and shout profanities.
“It’s unlike any other type of theater because it’s a totally interactive show,” Carignan said.
The Rocky Horror Show will run from Sept. 26 to Nov. 3 at the Garden Theater of the Short North Stage. Tickets are available to students for $15. The Short North Stage is also offering $50 subscriptions for the whole season.