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Tony Vincent is looking forward to his character's entrance in Pioneer Theatre Company's two-night concert staging of "The Rocky Horror Show."
After all, Vincent's cross-dressing mad scientist, Dr. Frank-N-Furter, gets to sing lyrics that helped make "Rocky Horror" a cult movie classic: "I'm just a sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania."
"It's a brilliant way of introducing who this character is, a very larger-than-life persona," says Vincent of "Sweet Transvestite," which he'll sing while strutting around in black, lace-up platform boots with a 4 ½-inch-tall heel.
Vincent, known for his rock-musical chops on Broadway, brought his own presence as a performer with him to auditions, which sold PTC artistic director Karen Azenberg.
"Vocally, he's tremendous," says the director. "He's got incredible skill and control and sound. What I liked about his take was it wasn't trying to mimic somebody else's." Someone else's performance like that of Tim Curry from the London and Los Angleles shows or the 1975 cult-classic film, or even Tom Hewitt or Terrance Mann from the musical's 2000 Broadway revival.
After all, Azenberg has already played the local celebrity card by casting Utah state Sen. and stage neophyte Jim Dabakis in the role of The Criminologist, referred to as the show's no-neck narrator.
Pioneer's concert cast also includes locally known performers such as Ginger Bess as Magenta, Carleton Bluford as Riff Raff, Latoya Rhodes as Columbia and Daniel T. Simons as Eddie. The cast has the vocal talent to "blow the roof off the building," Azenberg says, while the rock musical offers an opportunity to showcase the theater's newly installed $200,000 sound system.
Vincent is a rock musican and drummer originally from Albuquerque, N.M., known to reality TV viewers from his stint on CeeLo Green's team on the second season of NBC's "The Voice." Beyond his career as a musican, Vincent has crafted an impressive Broadway and London stage résumé, most recently originating the role of St. Jimmy in the Green Day musical "American Idiot." Past roles include playing in the London and Broadway revivals of "Jesus Christ Superstar," as well as the London and Las Vegas productions of the Queen musical "We Will Rock You." Vincent remembers performing in Salt Lake City on the national tour of "Rent" in 1997.
And Salt Lake City is something of a "Rocky Horror" town, thanks to the popularity of the Halloween season showings of the 1975 film, which began life on a London stage in 1973 as Richard O'Brien's saucy musical tribute to sci-fi and monster movies.
Susan Steffee, who has emceed local interactive screenings for 27 years, says Utah's "Rocky Horror"-goers are particularly enthusiastic. As evidence, she suggests taking note of the costumes, which over the years have included some excellent depictions of movie characters, a Ronald McDonald and even Mary Poppins.
Even when the costumes aren't over the top, often the legwear is, as the Tower screenings traditionally attract multiple filmgoers wearing fishnet stockings. In New York's East Village or San Francisco's The Castro, when you see a guy wearing fishnets, it's probably just a Tuesday. "Here, it's an event," she says. "It takes a level of dedication to stand in line for an hour wearing a bustier and fishnets in a snowstorm. Plus, our culture here is a little, uh, repressed and 'Rocky' is very much a safe space to flaunt your inner weirdo."
Officials at the Salt Lake Film Society, which will host eight screenings of the interactive "Rocky Horror Picture Show" at the Tower Theatre, thinks part of the reason the show has become so locally iconic are the performances and costumes of the long-running shadow cast, the Latter-Day Transvestites, part of the Out of the Shadows theater group, with Steffe as ringleader. "It takes a lot of work to put 'Rocky' on, and they have the hard job," she says.
About 2/3 of the audience at every Tower screening confess they are "Rocky Horror" virgins, says Amy Beth Leber, the film society's operations manager, yet she doesn't think the Pioneer audience will cut into the Tower's draw. "I feel like there's hardly any crossover," she says. "If it's a person who really loves 'Rocky Horror,' they're going to go to both."
Pioneer theatergoers shouldn't expect to see the company's usual big musical production. "Rocky Horror" will have an onstage rock band, while actors will carry scripts and make only minimal costume changes. And there's this: The company is selling prop bags, complete with Styrofoam hot dogs, which means you're invited to throw things in the house of Utah's most venerable professional company.
Azenberg hopes the concert will be the first of a series of concert stagings of musicals, based on the popular "Encores" series in New York City. "It's a different way to do it," she says. "You don't get a big old set, and you don't get 15 costume changes, but you actually get the flavor of what a show is supposed to be."
Let's do the 'Time Warp' again
Pioneer Theatre Company presents a concert staging of "The Rocky Horror Show," Richard O'Brien's 1973 musical spoof of monster movies that was adapted into the 1975 film that has become a cult classic.
When • Friday, Oct. 24, 8 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 25, 5 and 10 p.m. The first show is sold out, and limited tickets are available for the Saturday shows.
Where • Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 S. 1400 East, University of Utah campus, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $20-$40 ($5 more day of show); at 801-581-6961, the theater box office (10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays) or pioneertheatre.org
Also • The theater will sell prop kits for $5 at the concessions stand or box office that will include styrofoam hot dogs.
It's the pelvic thrust that really drives you insane
Susan Steffee will emcee, along with the long-running shadow cast, the Latter-Day Transvestites, at the Tower Theatre's annual screenings of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
When • Fridays, Oct. 24 and 31, and Saturdays, Oct. 25 and Nov. 1, at 8 p.m. and midnight
Where • Tower Theatre, 876 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $10 at the box office
Info • 801-321-0310 or saltlakefilmsociety.org/rocky-horror-picture-show-2014; pre-show starts 30 minutes before each screening; prop kits on sale for $3
How to do the Utah "Rocky"
Attending a Tower screening of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" isn't like watching the DVD at home, says 27-year-veteran emcee Susan Steffee. "Be prepared for a bit of craziness," she advises "Rocky" virgins. Also: Relax. Nothing is going to happen that you don't want to happen. "There are 100 other people wanting to go onstage, so you're not going to get singled out unless you're trying." She advises filmgoers to go with the flow, to stand up and dance, to sing along with the songs and to throw things. "One of the great things about 'Rocky' is doing all the stuff you're not supposed to do at movies."