Actor Mason Alexander Park will portray Dr. Frank-N-Furter in Bucks County Playhouse’s ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ Oct. 12–28
By Samantha Bambino
It’s time to break out the fishnets and heels … Dr. Frank-N-Furter and his household of kooky creatures are returning once again to Bucks County Playhouse for its production of The Rocky Horror Show. Beginning Friday, Oct. 12, through Sunday, Oct. 28, audiences can enjoy what’s arguably one of the most popular Halloween traditions in the area.
The raucous Broadway musical, written by Richard O’Brien, inspired the 1975 classic cult film The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which follows innocent couple Brad and Janet as they seek shelter at a mysterious old castle on a dark, stormy night. Here, they encounter transvestite Dr. Frank-N-Furter, his “perfect” creation Rocky, and an assortment of other crazy guests.
The 2018 production of The Rocky Horror Show features direction by Hunter Foster, who directed BCP’s record-breaking Million Dollar Quartet and 42nd Street, choreography by Lorin Latarro, and a slew of new surprises to keep theater-goers on their toes.
“This year we are adding to the fun,” said producer Stephen Kocis. “All patrons will now have Time Warp seats. A Playhouse prop bag will be available for each attendee, and everyone will be invited to come up on stage and dance the Time Warp with the cast.”
Starring in the lead role of Frank-N-Furter is Mason Alexander Park, who is no stranger to sporting fishnets after portraying the character multiple times before. On the heels of his recent appearance in Broadway’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Park sat down with The Times to share his thoughts on making his Playhouse debut, favorite qualities of Frank-N-Furter, and of course, the challenges that come with donning heels for an hour and a half.
For Park, whose Broadway peer Kevin Cahoon previously portrayed Frank-N-Furter at BCP, it’s a thrill to be a part of something he’s always idolized from afar.
“I have to say, I’m a little excited, mainly because I’ve played Frank-N-Furter a few times, but I’ve known of the Bucks County production for a few years. It’s done everywhere all the time, but there are very few big regional theaters that produce it often, and I always knew that Bucks was a pretty well-known production over here on the east coast,” he said. “So it’s always been on my radar, and I was hoping that at some point I’d be able to either see it or be in it.”
This will be Park’s fourth time playing Frank-N-Furter. The first opportunity came when he was only 17 living in Los Angeles, and completely inexperienced in the art of high heel walking.
“This show is actually the show that taught me how to walk in heels. Ever since, I can’t seem to get away from roles that ask me to do that,” he laughed. “It was actually a lot easier than I anticipated. I think it was probably just because they were like, boot platforms with a nice chunky heel. It worked well.”
The following two times took place during his years at Pittsburgh’s Point Park University in a 300-seat cabaret theater, which Park and the rest of the show’s crew transformed into Frank-N-Furter’s world for a special midnight performance. The show was so well attended, they were asked to bring it back the following year. Park strapped on his heels and happily obliged.
To successfully play a role multiple times, an actor usually feels some sort of connection to the character. What is it about Frank-N-Furter that keeps Park so intrigued?
“I think it’s his outrageousness. It’s the fact that this show is so fun and so silly, the style is so out there and kooky, but Frank-N-Furter is the catalyst of those strange B-movie horror villains. Everybody wants to be Dr. Frank-N-Furter. Everybody wants to kind of have a moment where they get to be the bad guy and get to be the maniac for an hour and a half,” Park said. “Frank not only is that, and the super genius, weird mad scientist, but he also gets to do it in fishnets and heels.”
As Park prepares to portray Frank-N-Furter for the fourth time, he explained that while he has an established foundation of how he plays the role, he’s always open to new ideas and directions.
“I try to be a little malleable in that sense. I don’t want my Frank to be so set in stone that anyone who hires me is kind of forced to deal with only one version of the character,” he said.
But one thing is for sure — he refuses to play into the “draggy” aspect of the character. Though Frank-N-Furter’s closet is chock-full of dresses and bodysuits, Park stressed his wardrobe and fire red lipstick don’t fully define him. Rather, the clothes are an extension of Frank’s personality, another aspect of him.
“That’s what makes them unrelatable,” he said of actors who put on too much of a “drag” act. “That’s what makes it hard to not find him as funny or as honest, or to be as affected by the show and the messages and by him. He is a real person and I think he has to be played as such.”
The entire score of The Rocky Horror Show holds a special place in Park’s heart, but he named “Don’t Dream It Be It” as the timeless number he looks forward to the most.
“Rocky Horror is so unbelievably famous amongst multiple generations and it’s so cool that it did make it down to my generation, that it’s still a thing,” he said. “I think it’s because of the floor show sequence, the whole ‘Don’t Dream It Be It’ sequence is the moment most people really connected with the piece, the film, the show or the album.”
So why should people come out to The Rocky Horror Show this Halloween season?
“Personally, I think it’s one of the most fun evenings that anyone can have in the theater,” he said. “I am really excited to bring something a little new to Bucks County.” ••
If you go…
The Rocky Horror Show will run from Oct. 12 through Oct. 28 with select late-night showings. It will play the following schedule: Oct. 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27 at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.; Oct. 14, 21 and 28 at 3 p.m.; and Oct. 17, 18, 24 and 25 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $60. Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. No outside prop bags permitted. For full details and to purchase tickets, visit buckscountyplayhouse.org, call 215–862–2121 or visit the box office at 70 S. Main St., New Hope.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com