A horror to behold


Hunter Mallette

Author with Kim Anetsburger

As a Rocky Horror virgin, I didn’t know what to expect when I received free tickets for the Stowe Theater Guild from Kim Anetsburger, a Johnson State College alumna.

The Stowe Theater Guild is no stranger to our JSC theater students who appear in the show: Cody Logan, Mackenzie Brown, Chelsey Staples, Jessica DeRosa, Josh Baughn and Samantha Gunn.

The Rocky Horror Show is the theater’s fourth production this season, which lasts from June to September.

“We started rehearsals in early August, so we had just about two months of rehearsals three days a week,” said Jessica DeRose, the assistant stage manager. “These entailed, for the actors, learning dances, music, and stage directions from our great production team, and for me, writing down all of the stage directions they were given and keeping things organized and running smoothly.”

The audience was given prop bags and there was a commentator in the audience performing all of the usual Rocky Horror callbacks, including “asshole,” calling Janet a “slut,” and many more. The sensitive shall be warned.

Cody Logan starred as Brad Majors, a pretty boy commonly referred to as “asshole” throughout the show. His sweetheart, Janet Weiss, was played by Victoria Drew, who was shy, timid and the epitome of an American girl circa 1960’s. Janet and Brad get stuck with a flat tire during a storm and discover the strange mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, played by Aaron Reil, a (evil) alien transvestite scientist.

In all his glory, Dr. Frank-N-Furter appears on stage wearing black garter belts and a tight corset, with platinum heels, of course. Throughout Act One, the audience realizes that Frank-N-Furter has created “Rocky,” this muscular man, through experiments. Rocky is played by Josh Baughn, who is clad in gladiator shoes and tight gold mini shorts.

Rocky Horror embodies sex, murder, and rock and roll, a new twist perhaps.

The audience is soon introduced to Eddie, former lover of both Frank and Columbia, played by Sydney Bard. Eddie had half of his brain cut out in sacrifice to create Rocky. Eddie, played by Tom Jaques, bursts into the song “Hot Patootie-Bless My Soul.”

Dr. Frank then takes an axe and murders Eddie in front of the new house guests, Brad and Janet.
Riff-Raff, played by Chris Demars, and Magenta, played by Brita Down, are deeply upset by another killing from Dr. Frank, and try to shut down the events and bring him back to Transylvania (their planet).

Meanwhile, the phantoms of the show are gloriously dressed in dresses, spandex and corsets, and covered in glitter. As an ensemble, they are in every scene, helping move it along.

“Since high school, I have been in 24 theatrical productions, including this one. Eleven have been musicals, the rest have been plays,” says Staples, a phantom. “The Rocky Horror Show is my second show at Stowe Theater Guild, the first being Seussical in June 2016.”

Staples herself was dressed in a huge red corseted ball gown with red make up: “One example of what makes our Rocky Horror Show unique is our take on the phantoms, which is what I play in the show. We take you through the story, and we help set up scenes during shifts . . . We do everything from big dancer numbers to becoming a car, and to understand that you’ll have to see the show.”

Brad and Janet perform “Superheroes” toward the end of the play, which helps determine what everything means. Brad and Janet are left confused, but their lives are certainly changed.

The original Rocky Horror ends on the scene “Criminologist,” where the plot and crimes of Dr. Frank are examined more in depth: “lost in time / lost in space / and meaning.” The Stowe version ends on the number “Science Fiction,” again a comedic number that sums up the plot of Dr. Frank coming from Transylvania and causing a stir on Earth.

If you were to Google Rocky Horror Show, you would find many articles written critiquing it in its crude nature and blatant disrespect for the AIDS epidemic and its portrayal of bisexuals and transvestites.



However, the Stowe cast worked very hard to make sure it kept its crude nature but wasn’t over the top with sex scenes.

There was one hilarious sex scene in the first act where Dr. Frank seduced both Brad and Janet at different times.

The Rocky Horror Show is being featured throughout October, and the next play for JSC is Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” which runs from Nov. 3-6.

“It is the original text adapted to be shorter, with the setting changed from 1600s Messina, Sicily, to modern day northern Vermont, so it’s very exciting,” said Staples.