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'Rocky Horror' returns live to Wilma stage this Halloween weekend

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'Rocky Horror Show Live'

"The Rocky Horror Show Live" is returning after a two-year hiatus. Here's the cast from a prior year: From left, Haley Court as Columbia, Jeff Medley as Riff Raff, Rachel Shull as Magenta and Reid Reimers as Dr. Frank-N-Furter.

Get ready to do a time warp back to 2019.

“The Rocky Horror Show Live” is returning to the Wilma this weekend after two years’ delay due to the pandemic.

Reid Reimers, the resident Dr. Frank-N-Furter who’s also directing this year, said he’s asked about it all the time on the street, a signal of the audience’s eagerness for the platform shoes to come out of hibernation.

“It’s one of those Missoula traditions people had been missing over the years,” he said, describing the homegrown tradition as a “a kinky little love letter to Missoula."

Show times are Friday-Saturday, Oct. 28-29, with performances at 8 p.m. and midnight. Doors open an hour beforehand. For tickets, go to logjampresents.com.

Bringing that Missoula tradition, a live and raucous theatrical version that dates back to 2009, onto stage again is no small task. Including every cast member, leaving out no Phantom or Kinky Chorus member, the technical crew and the live band, it takes about 60 people (not counting Wilma staff).

Because the songs and story are fixed, they try to keep it fresh by selecting a new theme for the costumes and set design. This year, it’s British mod plus “industrial renovation.” Reimers said the wild fashion of that ’60s movement felt appropriate, since “Rocky Horror” spans time periods: It looks back to the ‘50s and ’60s, yet also incorporates ’70s glam.

The producing company, the Montana Actors Theatre, is based in Havre. The new set was designed by Jay Pyette up on the Hi-Line and transported to the Wilma for the show. While they could reuse the same one every year, they feel that it’s worth the effort to start from scratch each time.

“We have too much talent and people who can come up with new and fresh themes,” Reimers said.

Choreographer Jack Failla, who’s worked with stars down in Los Angeles, is coming back after working on prior years.

They hold open auditions each go-round. New faces include Renee Ross as Janet and Jack Bowman as Rocky. Among other returning collaborators, local theater mainstay Jeff Medley will reprise his role as Riff Raff. Other cast members might not be involved in theater other parts of the year, but return for this show and its monthlong push. They “bring so much energy and positivity,” Reimers said.

Reimers, who is famously tall even before he puts on platform shoes, is reprising his role as Frank-N-Furter. He said strapping back into skimpy costumes after the pandemic has “been a fun challenge” that he’s decided to embrace and celebrate. “Sexy is as sexy does,” he said.

The band will be set up live on stage. Kurt Skrivseth, who plays bass in Pale People and works with musical theater, is leading the group, which includes horns and members of funk group Shakewell.

The Cigarette Girls burlesque troupe of Missoula will open the show, explaining how it all works and enacting the customary “devirginization ceremony.” You can check the FAQ on their “Rocky Horror Show Live” Facebook page. The important points: Audience interaction is encouraged and part of the whole thing. However, some traditions from performances and midnight screenings in other areas are out of bounds, such as throwing rice, hot dogs and toilet paper. Instead, you can buy a “prop bag” at the Wilma.

Reimers said ticket prices of $36 to $62 have increased due to inflation, but hopes people understand that it’s an independent production that pays all of its cast and crew for their time.

It’s a community show, too, with partnerships with the Hellgate Rollergirls, Planned Parenthood and more. 

The ticket prices they charged before inflation now wouldn’t cover the rights to the show, “let alone buying buckets of paint and G-strings,” he said.

Sarah Armstrong with Google Search Trends joins Good Day Seattle to tell the people of the Puget Sound what people are searching online, related to Halloween.

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