Live theater is nothing new at The Criterion Theatre. But the upcoming production of the musical “The Rocky Horror Show” might be the most ambitious in recent memory.
The show is scheduled for four performances, including two on Halloween night, and is a collaboration between the Bar Harbor theatre and members of The Barn Arts Collective.
“It’s such an ensemble effort,” said Andrew Simon, one of the founders of the arts collective. “Everybody is doing double duty.”
“The Rocky Horror Show” premiered in London in 1973. The story of a naïve young couple who are caught in a storm and take shelter in the home of a mad transvestite scientist who is about to bring life to his monster, Rocky Horror, was later adapted into a movie, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
The movie, which premiered in 1975, was panned almost universally by critics. However, it would gain a cult following. Delighted by the campiness of the film, audiences began showing up in droves, shouting out lines in synch with the actors, throwing props at the appropriate times and wearing costumes in imitation of their favorite characters.
The staff at the Criterion approached the arts collective in August about staging the musical. Simon, at first, was skeptical that they had enough actors and musicians to pull it off. Fortunately, the collective was in the midst of staging “Old Souls,” a production that included several New Yorkers. They immediately got on board with the idea.
“That was a game-changer for us,” Simon said. “All of the sudden, we had this amazing team.”
The “team” includes a cast of 12; six of whom also are the rock band serving as the pit orchestra. In this case, the band won’t be in front of the stage but on it.
“The main visual set piece is the band,” Simon said.
The band’s job goes beyond playing music.
“Some of the performers in the band will play characters in the show,” Simon said.
There is no elaborate stage set; projected images, designed by Ingrid Larson, will provide the backdrop for scenes.
Earlier this week, the collective members from Maine traveled to Brooklyn, N.Y., to rehearse with the rest of the cast. Production meetings were being held through conference calls. The production is directed by Lindsey Hope Pearlman.
Simon is playing the role of Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter, the fishnet- and corset-wearing scientist. Carl Ferm and collective co-producer Brittany Parker are Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, the straight-laced couple who find shelter in the doctor’s castle. Elizabeth May is Magenta and an usherette. Chris Tyler is Riff Raff, and Columbia is played by Me’lissa Smith.
The audience won’t be expected to just sit back and watch passively, Simon said. Each member of the audience will get a “goodie bag” filled with the props they need to become a part of the action.
“I think that’s what’s so cool about ‘Rocky Horror,’ the audience participation,” Simon said.
People are asked to show up a half-hour before Showtime for a crash-course in how and when to use those props.
Performances of “The Rocky Horror Show” are scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Oct. 29, 30 and 3. On Saturday, Halloween, a second show is set for 11 p.m. The warm-up will begin a half-hour before each performance. Tickets are $20 for balcony and platinum seating, $15 for orchestra seating and $10 for students and seniors.
For tickets, contact the Criterion at 288-0829 or visit criteriontheatre.org.