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Winnipesaukee Playhouse starts season with ‘Rocky Horror’

  • Scenes from the Winnipesaukee Playhouse's rehearsal of "The Rocky Horror Show," on June 12, 2017, in Meredith, N.H. —Courtesy of Lesley Pankhurst

  • Scenes from the Winnipesaukee Playhouse's rehearsal of "The Rocky Horror Show," on June 12, 2017, in Meredith, N.H. —Courtesy of Lesley Pankhurst

  • Michael Luongo and Rebecca Tucker rehearse a scene from “The Rocky Horror Show” at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse on Monday. Courtesy of Lesley Pankhurst

  • The cast of the “The Rocky Horror Show” at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse rehearse on Monday. Courtesy of Lesley Pankhurst

  • Scenes from the Winnipesaukee Playhouse's rehearsal of "The Rocky Horror Show," on June 12, 2017, in Meredith, N.H. —Courtesy of Lesley Pankhurst



Monitor staff
Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The big screen is coming to the stage for the Winnipesaukee Playhouse’s 14th season.

The professional company’s line-up and most of the community theater troupe’s shows will be plays based on films, or plays that inspired a film.

The summer season began Wednesday with the professional company staging The Rocky Horror Show, which opened in London theaters in 1973. The story was made into The Rocky Horror Picture Show movie in 1975 and burst into a cult phenomenon.

The performance tells a story of a young couple – Brad (Michael Luongo) and Janet (Rebecca Tucker) – who end up at the mysterious castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Mark Stephen Woods) and are in for a “strange journey.”

Artistic director and co-founder of the playhouse, Neil Pankhurst, appears in the show as the narrator. He said it’s his first appearance on stage in 23 years and his first time in the United States.

“They were looking for a pompous English man, and I guess I fit the bill,” Pankhurst said.

The show blends film genre tropes such as science-fiction (there are aliens), Gothic fantasy (Dr. Frank-N-Furter has Dr. Frankstein qualities) and horror (well, you’ll see). It uses the mishmash to poke fun at B-movies.

“It’s a beautiful blend of all these styles,” Pankhurst said. “It’s really fun; it’s really fast-paced.”

Like the later movie version, The Rocky Horror Show has singing and dancing, including the famous “Time Warp” song.

“It’s obviously got lots of good rock music,” Pankhurst said.

The show contains sexual content, but, Pankhurst said, it is shown in such a way that you laugh at it instead of being shocked by it.

Overall, Pankhurst explained that the show is really about Brad and Janet’s emotional journey from a naive couple to being more liberated and wise by the end of their night.

They’re “really the heart of the piece,” Pankhurst said.

But there are all sorts of weird things going on meanwhile.

“Whenever you see this show, it’s fairly unusual anyways,” he said. While a lot is familiar, there will be differences between the film and the stage versions.

There will be opportunities for the audience to participate and prop bags will be available with instructions. Audience members are asked to not bring their own props.

Tim L’Ecuyer directed the show for the Winnipesaukee Playhouse. Cast members also include John-Michael Breen as Riff Raff, Valerie Nuccio as Magenta, Sandia Ahlers at Columbia, Wayne Shuker as Rocky, Antony Logan Cole as Eddie and Dr. Scott and Kelley Davies, Chris Hendricks Candice Shedd-Thompson and Jay Wilkinson as phantoms.

Shows will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday; Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and midnight; Monday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Tuesday through June 24 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets range from $20 to $34 based on seat location.

As artistic director, Pankhurst guides the selection of the shows for the season.

He said he’s been wanting to choose shows that have a connection for a while.

Last year, while working on this summer’s line-up, he noticed his first few selections were plays that were also movies. He decided that would be the connection for all the shows. 

After The Rocky Horror Show, the Winnipesaukee Playhouse will stage the Cole Porter musical High Society, a Sherlock Holmes adaptation of The Hound of Baskervilles, the stage version of The Graduate, Round and Round the Garden and close the summer season with The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, a Western.

For the season’s full billing and to purchase tickets, visit winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org.

(Sarah Pearson can be reached at features@cmonitor.com, 369-3324 or on Twitter @SarahPearsonNH.)