Time-warped in Woodstock with live Rocky Horror Show

Still in circulation 35 years after its release, The Rocky Horror Picture Show has become a rite of passage for generations of adults seeking to live out their Halloween fantasies in a late-night movie theater. But Alm@nac readers have a better option: seeing the show live at the Colony Café, located at 22 Rock City Road in Woodstock. The production by the Castaway Players Theater Company will be performed October 28 through 31 at 8 p.m. The audience is encouraged to dress up, with prizes awarded to the best costume. But don’t bring a bag of props, since there will be plenty of action onstage.

Sean Matthew Whiteford, the 24-year-old multi-talented wunderkind who founded the company in 2005 and also serves as its president, said that this production will return the show to its stage roots (the movie was based on a play that premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 1973). “The movie is so bad, people started yelling at the screen, but the stage version has always been entertaining,” said Whiteford, who discovered Rocky Horror when he was just 11 years old and acted it out in front of his grandparents. “The music is amazing, and (in this production) it has never sounded better. I won’t discourage audience participation, but I think people will be surprised that they won’t have to do anything additional to entertain themselves during this show.”

Whiteford, who lives in Saugerties and supports himself as a voice teacher, plays Dr. Frank N. Furter, the mad scientist/transvestite played memorably in the film by a black-lingerie-clad Tim Curry (a performance to which Whiteford’s has been favorably compared). He also produced, directed and choreographed the show – as he does for almost all the company’s productions.

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They include well-known musicals as well as original works such as Mean Girls, which, performed in Kingston last winter, conjured up the raw, youthful energy and talent of a Broadway show-in-the-making, and Girlfriend from Hell. Both musicals were written by Whiteford. “I’m pretty new to playwriting,” he said. “I really didn’t even know I could write songs until two years ago. Now people expect it from me.”

Working with a group of actors ranging in age from 13 to 60, Whiteford said that the company doesn’t have the funds for elaborate sets, but so far audiences haven’t seemed to notice, seduced by the outpouring of talent. “A big misconception is that we are a community theater, when in fact we’re pretty picky about who’s in our shows,” Whiteford said. The auditions that he holds have attracted candidates from as far away as New Jersey, and he said that the company so far has alumni of more than 80 professional actors.

The company started “almost by accident”: When he was 17, Whiteford decided to put on a production of Rocky Horror with a group of friends and family members just for fun. To his surprise, “When we opened, there was a huge line of people coming to see it. After that, I considered devoting myself to making a company. It’s grown immensely since then.” Girlfriend from Hell was performed in New York City, and there is some talk that it will be turned into a movie. “After the New York show, it was like, ‘Now what?’ I want to look at everything I do as my big break. I would just like to be considered successful and respected for what I do.” His dream is for the Castaway Players to have their own theater.

This is the fifth production of Rocky Horror by the Castaway Players – and the seventh for Whiteford. The cast consists of Frank McGinnis (formerly of the Indie band Frankie and His Fingers and now the solo project, Time Travels), Kerry Gibbons, Henry George Staats III, Melissa Matthews, Juda Leah, Matthew Patane, Emily LaPlant Woolever, Jared Whiteford, Emily Cahill, Seraphina Mallon-Breiman, Lauren Moran and Cassiopeia Ottulich. Leah, proprietor of the Juda Leah Atelier & Boutique in Saugerties, also designed the costumes.

Tickets cost $15. For more information about the show, call (845) 853-4176 or e-mail thecastawayplayers@yahoo.com.

 

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