Pictured (L to R) is the cast of the Wagon Wheel Theatre’s production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show, top row: Brad Foster Reinking as Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter; Brooke Myers as Janet; Nick Case as Brad; Monica Charline Brown as usherette and Magenta; second row: Thomas Blake Hogan as Riff Raff; Tyler M. Breeding as Rocky; Kira Lace Hawkins as Columbia; Chase Heinemann as Eddie and Dr. Scott; bottom row: Scott Michaels as narrator; Jennifer Dow as phantom; Louis Brogna as phantom; Michael Pacholski as phantom; and Haley McCormick as phantom. Photos provided.
Pictured (L to R) is the cast of the Wagon Wheel Theatre’s production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show, top row: Brad Foster Reinking as Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter; Brooke Myers as Janet; Nick Case as Brad; Monica Charline Brown as usherette and Magenta; second row: Thomas Blake Hogan as Riff Raff; Tyler M. Breeding as Rocky; Kira Lace Hawkins as Columbia; Chase Heinemann as Eddie and Dr. Scott; bottom row: Scott Michaels as narrator; Jennifer Dow as phantom; Louis Brogna as phantom; Michael Pacholski as phantom; and Haley McCormick as phantom. Photos provided.
One might say that Brad Foster Reinking is a bit of an expert on “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

Starring as Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter in the cult classic musical at the Wagon Wheel Theatre this week, it’s his fourth time as the “sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania.”

“I’ve done it three times in proscenium theaters, so it’s a little different this time because the audience is all around. But it’s a different cast, different choreography, so I feel like I have some advantage coming in knowing the majority of the lines and the songs. But in a way it’s like starting from scratch because it’s new costumes, new choreography, new staging and I think, obviously, the biggest thing is we’re in the round so there’s no hiding anywhere,” Foster Reinking said.

He also isn’t new to the Wagon Wheel or theater-in-the-round. He appeared in “A Christmas Carol” in 2016.

In the “Rocky Horror” musical, sweethearts Brad (Nick Case) and Janet (Brooke Myers) get a flat tire during a storm and walk off to find a telephone (the movie was released in 1975, before everyone had cellphones). They find the mansion of Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter and are welcomed in by handyman Riff Raff (Thomas Blake Hogan) and maid Magenta (Monica Charline Brown). Over the course of the night, the naive and innocent couple meet a houseful of wild characters like biker Eddie (Chase Heinemann) and groupie Columbia (Kira Lace Hawkins). Frank ‘N’ Furter also unveils his latest creation – an adonis named Rocky (Tyler M. Breeding).

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is at the Wagon Wheel tonight at 7 p.m.; Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 2 p.m.

For Brown – who previously appeared in “West Side Story” and “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Wagon Wheel – this is her first time in any production of “Rocky Horror” and she gets two roles – the usherette and Magenta.

“The usherette basically starts and ends the show, kind of bookends the show, if you will. And she is working at the movie theater and is just a huge fan of all horror movies and science fiction movies, and she just kind of gets the audience ready to see what they’re about to see,” Brown said.

The usherette sings what the giant red lips sung in the 1970s film version of “Rocky Horror.” Brown said a “fun fact” about the lips in the movie is that those lips belong to the actress – Patricia Quinn – who played Magenta in the movie.

“Magenta is the maid and – spoiler alert! – is, at the end, an extraterrestrial being. And she is one of Frank ‘N’ Furter’s right-hands, living the crazy life,” Brown said.

The show has taken on a life of its own over the years. According to a March 23, 2016, New York Post article, “Rocky Horror” has been running continuously in theaters longer than any other movie in history and is among the top-grossing musicals ever released. It attracted sellout crowds when it premiered Sept. 24, 1975, at a single theater in Los Angeles. It debuted as a weekend midnight show in Manhattan on April Fool’s Day in 1976. Adjusted for ticket price inflation, the NYT article states “The Rocky Horror Picture Show’’ has sold over $479 million worth of tickets.

Foster Reinking said, “I always say, I think my favorite line in the whole show is ‘Give yourself over to absolute pleasure.’ And I think that sums it up. People from all backgrounds, cultures, beliefs love being able to just let loose. It’s a silly show, it’s a silly story, but I also think there’s a ton of heart in it. I think Richard O’Brien, who wrote it and who had a huge hand in making the movie – he played Riff Raff in the movie – I think that he really tapped into something that people love. There’s a huge dose of Americana, even though it’s a British musical.”

He thinks people love mixing outlandish clothing and behavior with the strait-laced 1950s couple of Brad and Janet.

“I think the reason it is still a success is because you can just be yourself,” Foster Reinking said.

Brown said as a first-timer in a production of “Rocky Horror,” it’s been thrilling.

“I had seen the movie a long time ago, but I never went to a screening or seen it live or anything like that. So it’s been really exciting to build it from the ground up as a first-timer. And just this cast and creative team are so incredible and I really think everybody’s bringing their ‘A’ game,” she said.

Foster Reinking said he’s done “Rocky Horror” all over the country and people come out of the woodwork for it.

“It has a cult following, and people hear that ‘Rocky’ is happening and they will travel for it. So I say to anyone in Warsaw who doesn’t know what it is, come. Leave your expectations at the door. You will have so much fun. If nothing else, you will have such a great time. It’s amazing music. The band is wild. The lights and costumes and sets are going to blow people’s minds, and it’s very funny, too,” he said.

Brown said the rock style of the songs make them so catchy. Every ending of every song has “a crazy rock riffing with a guitar and drums.

“I think just the music of that period is inherently catchy, just the way it’s structured with the beats. And I think the lyrics are really clever and are just meant to get stuck in your head,” she said.

Foster Reinking bragged on the design elements of the costumes. They pay homage to the movie, but designers Stephen R. Hollenbeck and Jennifer Dow “have come up with completely original aesthetic while paying homage to what everyone is expecting,” he said.

Before the show, audience members can buy props to participate in the show.

“We are fully embracing the audience participation nature of the show. We’re letting everyone know that if you know the call outs, please do them! It is truly encouraged. Just for the safety of the performers and staff, especially because we are in the round, they’re not allowing any outside props in, but they are selling participation bags for $5. And for any ‘Rocky Horror’ virgins, there is a list that comes with the bag of when to use them,’ Foster Reinking explained.

Some of the props include water guns, toilet paper, playing cards, flashlights and more.

Brown said, “I just think that everybody needs to come out and have a good time. If you want to participate, great. If you just want to enjoy the show, also totally welcome. It’s just going to be a really, exciting night of live theater.”

Tickets for “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” can be purchased through the box office; by calling 574-267-8041 or 866-823-2618; or online at www.wagonwheelcenter.org.