Sunday, May 27, 2018

Let's do the Time Warp in Tampa Bay again

Flying toast isn't the half of what people are treated to when they decide to head to a movie theater to see the 1975 cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

For just about as long as the movie has been around, so have the fans who don costumes and take to the front of the theater to make what would be a routine viewing an interactive experience with call and response, props and general silliness all night. It's a tradition with roots in every major city. The campy musical has fans around the world.

But it has been nine years since the Interchangeable Parts cast "time-warped" at the historic Tampa Theatre. This year, with the help of Polk County's The Lipstick Players, they're coming home.

"It's amazing," said Skiptor Johnson, leader of the Interchangeable Parts. "It's kind of been the dream of a lot of us to set foot back in there to perform It was very much a milestone when we got called and asked."

For one performance on Halloween night, the two troupes of performers will create one mega-cast to bring fans The Rocky Horror Picture Show live experience diehards have come to expect.

The show is one part of the two-week Nightmare of Franklin Street series that will show a range of horror and Halloween-themed films to celebrate the holiday.

Rocky-lover and Tampa Theatre marketing director Jill Witecki said the performance is the crowning jewel in an event she hopes will become a staple for the theater.

"Hopefully, this will be as popular as some of our other series and become something we do year after year, but not the same line up of course," Witecki said. "We'll keep it going if the fans like this and scream for more, pun intended."

Those with expectations of what a Rocky performance should be can rest assured, Johnson said.

Interchangeable Parts first began performing Rocky 21 years ago and currently has a standing Saturday night engagement at Largo's AMC Tri-City 28 movie theater.

The Lipstick Players have been performing the show for nine years as annual fundraiser for the Florida Dance Theater, said Ferdinand "Freddie" De Jesus, 42, FDT's founding artist director and leader of the Players.

He's been pulling on fishnets to breathe life into Tim Curry's iconic Dr. Frank-N-Furter in New York City and Lakeland for years.

"I am lucky enough to be performing regularly, so I'm pretty well rehearsed," De Jesus explained. "I have performed in New York, special events in Miami and around Central Florida."

To prepare to lace up his corset and sashay in his feather boa, De Jesus said he does a high heel workout by taking to the stairs in a pair of stilettos.

"It gave me a lot of admiration for women who dance in those things," he laughed.

The Lipstick Players troupe is made up of mostly dancers, so expect sharp pelvic thrusts before you go insane.

Interchangeable Parts brings another element to the show as a cast so seasoned that each member performs a different role from week to week, hence the name.

"Being a part of a Rocky cast is not about who you are or where you're from," said Johnson, 34, an auction house phone representative from St. Pete. "Everyone is accepted, all the time."

Despite the extraterrestrial plot line of our "sweet transvestite", that's the message at the heart of Rocky and what keeps fans coming back for more.

"That's honestly why it has been going on so long with casts like mine," he said. "When it came out, you couldn't be openly gay and openly transsexual, you couldn't have a difference of opinion like you can today. But you could do Rocky."

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