Long before the term ‘queer’ had any positive connotation, and longer still since it was chic for straight people to pretend as though they for the cause all along, the Rocky Horror Picture Show was a bridge between the gay and straight communities.
And for the last 13 years in Anchorage, Mad Myrna’s, Anchorage Press Press Picks 2018 winner for Best Gay Bar, has made the cross-dressing show a crossover hit with spectators who might not otherwise find themselves in a gay bar on a given weekend night.
“I’m really proud of our little theater; it’s been around a little while,” said Cameron Morrison, assistant director and stage manager for this year’s Rocky Horror production, which kicks off Oct. 11 with an early screening to benefit the American Cancer Society, and runs through Nov. 11. “I would say this is typically (for a crossover crowd). We’ve done ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, ‘Sordid Lives’ and ‘Cabaret’, but ‘Rocky’ has been a staple the last 13 years. Around the country, it is, more or less, a gay bar thing.”
In last year’s production, directed by Frank ‘MeMe’ Jenkins, Morrison played Brad, the square, neurotic fiance of Janet, made famous by Susan Sarandon in the movie version, and last year t Myrna’s by Regina MacDonald.
The two are teamed up again, but now in different roles, with MacDonald shouldering the load of director.
“It’s such a cult classic we don’t want to change it too much,” MacDonald said. “We want to be true to the show, true to the movie.”
There is, though, an undoubtable flexibility in ‘Rocky’, which helps give it such local resonance and staying power, and there’s no character that lends more room for interpretation than the role of Frank-N-Furter, the deranged mad scientist/lord of the manor, happened upon by the naive Brad and Janet.
Last year, Varian Oatman stole the show with his highly feminized take on the adorable psychopath as a black man, 6-foot-6 in heels.
This time around, Brooks ‘Goldie’ Banker returns to the role for a third time, and his fourth straight year in the production.
“I wanted to toy with being more of a traditional Frank,” Banker said. “The first year I played it, I had a theme of 80s and 90s nostalgia, but I really made Frank my own and went really far out as a mad scientist. The second time was more of a ‘Pleasantville’ theme, so I made him a little more of a crooner, initially soft with some subtle sexiness mixed with style. This year, I kind of wanted to make him a little seductive, mixed with rock and roll, with madness in more of a traditional sense.”
Banker sees this take on Frank as going more to the core of who the character really is.
“I definitely relate to this year’s Frank more than others,” Banker said. “It’s taking it back to the traditional sense of the punk rocker part of me, some who is seductive and is powerful, but who also just wants to be loved. That’s the foundation of why he manipulates people the way he does, the reason he creates people to be his sexual items is because he truly wants to be loved and I think a lot of people identify with that.”
But is ‘Rocky Horror’ an LGBT show?
“I do think it is, but it is a show for everyone, simultanously,” Banker said. “It’s not by any means owned by the LGBT community. Anyone who comes to it needs to expect that to be an element. Queerness is what I’d identify it as… From my personal experience, people in general get a sense of belonging in this freakshow with how seductive it is — it’s all about freedom and letting your freak flag fly.”
‘Rocky Horror’ runs Fridays and Saturday through Nov. 11. Showtimes are Fridays at 7 p.m. and 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. shows on Saturdays. Tickets are on sale at https://tickets.centertix.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=1997