ST. ALBANS — This week the Fairfax Community Theater Company will be putting its own spin on “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” using animation as part of the set design.
The show is being staged at the St. Albans Historical Museum in the Bliss Room with a stage originally built for 19th Century school productions.
“We had to get creative,” said director Meg Cossaboom. “It didn’t make sense to try to put together full-scale scenery.”
Instead, they turned to artist and musician Ben Patton who has drawn animation for some of the hardest to stage scenes.
Each cell of the animation is hand-drawn. “This is old school,” said Cossaboom. “It’s an innovative combination of live acting and old school animation.”
The show itself is a tribute to the B movies of the 1950s and 1960s, so “putting a comic book spin on the show would make sense for modern fans,” said Cossaboom. Patton’s animation, she said, has a “stark, subversive, weird and goofy kind of feel.”
But all of the things which audiences love about Rocky Horror are still there, including big dance numbers and the opportunity to be part of the action.
There will be prop bags for sale for those who believe that a toast means it’s time to throw some toast (but none with butter, please).
At Thursday’s opening night there will be an audience costume contest with prizes donated by local businesses. “Everybody in the audience is going to be an honorary Transylvanian for the night,” said Cossaboom.
As for those dance numbers, nearly the entire 25-person cast was moving a little to the right for the time warp during Monday night’s tech rehearsal. “They are very complex and very exciting,” said Cossaboom.
Molly Hartman, who also choreographed “Shrek” for Missisquoi Valley Union, did the choreography. “She makes ’em do it ’til it’s right,” said Cossaboom.
There’s also a live pit band. “This show is rock ‘n roll; couldn’t do it without a live band,” said Cossaboom.
Dave Buckley, of St. Albans, brings a Buddy Holly-esque quality to the role of Brad Majors, while Hillary Loggins is his fiancée Janet Weiss. A flat tire brings the couple to the door of a castle filled with unusual people.
Ken Lagro has returned to theater after a 10-year hiatus to play the iconic Frank N. Furter. “I have loved this show for years and years,” Lagro said, when asked why this role enticed him to return. “It’s so full of energy. It’s not judgmental. Everybody’s so out there.”
For Cossaboom, that lack of judgment is a big part of the show’s appeal. Noting the timing of the production, so soon after the U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriage in all 50 states, Cossaboom said, “I think it’s a great celebration for this particular time in history.”
“Anyone who is different and doesn’t want to just fit in but be celebrated for who they are, it’s a great message for those folks,” she said. “It’s a combination of campiness and just pure heart.”