Brandon Boulton always has been drawn to costumes and to performing.
Recently, he landed one of the most enigmatic roles to be found onstage -- that of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, the gender-bending lead in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Boulton will take his turn as the Good Doctor when Cutting Edge Theater in Slidell hosts the Halloween classic on Oct. 21-22 and again Oct. 28-29.
The role is a campy and charismatic romp popularized by Tim Curry when "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" was made into a movie in 1975. It co-starred a young (and unknown at the time) Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick, and it soon became a cult favorite on both stage and screen. "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" was a satirical homage to science fiction and B movies, and used sexual ambiguity as a popular vehicle to keep audiences interested.
More than 40 years later, “Rocky” is synonymous with Halloween. It’s performed by thousands of theater troupes and is in regular rotation on cable television. This year, Fox is set to air a new version of the film, which will introduce "The Time Warp" to an even wider audience.
For Boulton, though, the Cutting Edge stage is just that -- cutting edge. He realizes that though "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" has over time become to seem more mainstream than shocking, it remains vitally avant-garde in some circles.
Director Richard Fuentes is giving actors the freedom to keep his "Rocky" edgy, taking the entire production back to its early days -- a time when "Rocky" broke barriers to become one of the most enduring theater experiences in history.
“It’s crazy,” Boulton said. “It’s intimidating and exciting at the same time. Everybody knows the show and knows how the story goes, but every actor is not the same and will have their own interpretation. … I’m hoping my version comes across and is well-received. … I’m playing a very sassy Frank-N-Furter.”
Fuentes and his husband, Brian Fontenot, have taken turns directing "Rocky" at Cutting Edge over the past few years. Last year, Fontenot’s production had an Asian flair. This year, Fuentes has brought a peepshow theme to the show.
“ 'Rocky Horror' the stage production, the live version, is slightly different than the movie,” Fuentes said. “There are a lot of the same lines and dialogue, and the music is all the same. But with some of the ensemble cast members, you get to have fun with and adapt to different themes. They’re called phantoms, and I’ve decided to use them up front.”
And use them he does -- portraying them as prostitutes. Fuentes knows that is risqué to some, but it’s all part of the bawdiness that is "Rocky."
“When it’s on Comedy Central, it’s PG,” he said. “We try to push the envelope a bit.”
Boulton and fellow cast members embrace the opportunity. Dawn Mastacuso, who doubles as Magenta and the Usherette in Fuentes’ "Rocky," is in her third production of the show at Cutting Edge. She said she likes reliving "Rocky" through the eyes of younger cast members.
Lisa Castro, who plays the Narrator, said she enjoys setting the edgy tone for the audience.
She is a makeup artist by day, and Mastacuso is a paralegal. The show, and the theater, help them become something different.
“The thing about theater is it doesn’t matter what race you are, your gender, sexual orientation -- theater embraces everybody,” Castro said. “We can come here and not worry about any of that stuff. We all care about each other and embrace each other. It’s a safe place. We’re all artists, and we take this venue and express ourselves.”
Fuentes and Fontenot are more than happy to allow them that chance.
“This is a show from start to finish,” Fuentes said. “We try to touch on every level of that with costuming and makeup. We really run the gamut, trying to inject new creative ideas into it. It’s so old and so well-known, everyone has an expectation of what 'Rocky' should be. We try and shatter that.”
All the while, gathering together in the name of good fun.
“We’re all friends and we’ve all worked together in some way,” Fuentes said. “We all get along, and it really works well for the production as a whole.”
Tickets to "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" at Cutting Edge Theater can be purchased at cuttingedgetheater.com/movies/rocky-horror/. The theater is located within Attractions Salon, 767 Robert Blvd., Slidell. All shows start at 8 p.m.
For more information, call (985) 649-3727 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.