SHSU theatre department brings iconic Rocky Horror Show to campus

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The SHSU department of Theatre and Musical Theatre will be opening The Rocky Horror Show next week directed by professional Broadway choreographer and director and SHSU alumnus Greg Graham.

The Rocky Horror Show is an energetic and unique show that tells the story of a young couple that finds themselves in the home of an eccentric and bizarre man and his band of intriguing and colorful performers. Graham talked about his decision to bring such an iconic production to our theatre department.

“I wanted to do something a little more fun and not so heavy,” Graham said. “Even though Rocky is heavy in terms of it being a racy piece, it deals with opening your mind to people and things.”

Graham has been a guest director for the theatre department several times in the past since he graduated in 1999. He talked about the feelings of nostalgia that come up every time he comes back to SHSU to direct and how special it is for him. He described the process of guest directing and the kind of actors he was looking for when casting the show.

“I’m really interested in working with [a cast that] I believe is capable of transforming my vision of the show and seeing what else they can bring to it,” Graham said. “I have an idea, you know, and I have a mold, but you want to work with people that kind of push your buttons and are interesting,” Graham said.

Graham also discussed the characteristics of the performers he was searching for and what he wanted for this production.

“They’re vocally challenging and difficultly written parts,” Graham said. “I wanted people who intimidated me both for the good, and for the intimidation factor. It’s an intense show and you have an audience that comes to see this show that has a cult following to it. So, they want to have fun with the characters and the people who are playing these characters.”

With opening night for this show so early on in the semester, Graham, the cast and the crew had to hit the ground running with rehearsals and preparing to open the production. Graham talked about the intricate process and how they all made it work.

“We jumped right in,” Graham said. “Because I’m directing and choreographing, I have to get through Acte one. So, I have to block a scene, stage a number, block a scene, stage a number, and get through it and see what I have. I did that for Acte one. Then we went back through it and I asked myself, ‘Okay, what works? What’s fun? What’s not? What’s funny? What’s not?’” Graham said.

Rocky Horror is known for being an extremely eclectic and wild show. This can spark controversy in certain locations. Graham talked about choosing to put on this production at a college in the south and how he deals with mixed opinions that may arise come opening weekend.

“I grew up here,” Graham said. “So, I understand there are some more conservative values down here and they’re fully entitled to their opinion. It’s a show about opening your mind, and freeing your mind. Everybody’s free to do that. Whether you’re doing Rocky Horror, whether you’re doing Hair!, whether you’re doing Hamlet, these shows deal with real issues that we have in our real lives and it’s going to effect people,” Graham said. “It’s going to push people’s buttons in a way where they might not want to be a part of it and that’s okay. There’s something for everyone and I think Rocky Horror caters to that.” Graham said.

Graham talked about what he hopes to bring to the students when he guest directs and what he hopes to bring to the university through his shows.

“What I like to do is come back here and offer a certain frame of mind they may not be exposed to much,” Graham said. “I think there is a world out there that is beyond Huntsville, beyond Dallas, beyond Houston, beyond Texas and the southwest. We can’t ignore that world.”

Graham talked about the message he hopes comes across through the show’s performances.

“There’s a line in the show that Frank N. Furter sings and he says, ‘Don’t dream it, be it.’ It means to live your life the way you want to live your life, not the way society tells you or not the way that hierarchy tells you.”

 

Graham talked about what he hopes the audience and the cast and crew ultimately take away from this show.

“I think everybody’s got secrets that they don’t want people to know and I think a show like this caters to letting people just let their guard down and have some fun,” Graham said. “It’s not to be taken too seriously and you know, at times, life shouldn’t be taken too seriously.”

The SHSU department of Theatre and Musical Theatre opens The Rocky Horror Show directed by Greg Graham on Wednesday, October 7, with performances to continue through the weekend.