Rocky Horror Show at Players of Utica

You've already missed the Players of Utica production of Richard O'Brien's musical The Rocky Horror Show; sorry I couldn't get a review up in time for you to see it.

I trekked out to Utica to support Jason Jaquays-Tarbox in the role of Frank N. Furter (and also to celebrate Mel's birthday). And also because I've loved this show since I was about 15.

In case you're not familiar with The Rocky Horror Show, the story goes like this. Brad and Janet are at a wedding. After the bride and groom take off, Brad proposes to Janet; Janet says yes. They decide to drive to see the science teacher who introduced them. They blow a tire in the woods and walk a couple of miles in the rain to a frightening-looking castle.

In the castle they meet a bunch of transvestite aliens (in fact, Transvestite is the name of their planet; it's in the Transsexual galaxy) whose flamboyant leader, Frank N Furter, has created a muscle-bound boy-toy for himself. We're surprised by Brad and Janet's teacher, who turns out to be a Nazi-sympathizing FBI agent investigating alien life on Earth. Frank's "servants," Riff-Raff and Magenta, deem the mission a failure, kill the Transvestites, shoo the Earthlings, and return home.

But really, it's a good show.

Read Jaquays-Tarbox's blog for a peek into the short rehearsal schedule and intense, four-show (single-weekend) run. It would have taken me longer than the rehearsal schedule just to learn how to run around the auditorium in 9-inch heels with a 4-inch platform toe, or however those shoes are adequately described.

Never mind that. I digress.

Jaquays-Tarbox is brilliant in the starring role, and Jake Meiss's Riff-Raff is superbly creepy. David Kolb does a decent job balancing Brad's nerdy shyness while still exuding confidence on stage. Lauren Noble plays a strong Janet*, and Kelsey Beck clearly has a ton of fun as Columbia.

Our group went opening night and the audience participation aspect – popular in the film version (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) – was light. There was confusion on whether we could bring props (no), and with the exception of one or two audience members, most people seemed to feel weird shouting back at live actors.

The show had a multi-media (filmed) aspect and opening credits.

One thing that must make this show especially nerve-racking to appear in is most people spend a fair amount of time on stage in either their underwear (notably Noble and Jake Meyers's Rocky), or in drag (Jaquays-Tarbox and later Meyers and Kolb), or generally in various states of undress (pretty much everybody else).

Peter Loftus directed the show, and Bonnie Hibbard was the musical director. Randy Fields choreographed the production.

*I may be a little biased; Noble pulled me out of the audience to dance during the closing. (return)

East Woods Skate Plaza

I met this morning with some folks from the Eastwood Neighborhood Association.

One of the things they've been working on – in addition to ensuring safe sidewalks, clean neighborhoods, and good rental programs – is a skate plaza attached to Huntington Park.

It's quite a project they're proposing. I went over to the site with a couple of members after our meeting, and saw that some neighborhood kids had built a BMX course through the woods; those trails would circle the skate plaza.

The plan is for a multi-use plaza: there would be picnic tables, and the way the land is sloped, it could be used as an amphitheater, as well.

If you're questioning the need for a skate plaza, talk to shop owners who keep chasing skaters away; ask the county, who gated up the Everson Museum plaza so skaters would stop using it; ask the folks who have put up signs at the Village Mall in Liverpool that say "Final Warning: No Skateboarding or Rollerblading."

Why can't they just use the skate park at Onondaga Lake Park? A few reasons:

• It's too small for large groups, or for mixed groups of bikers and skaters
• It's not in their neighborhood; they need rides to get there
• You pay for 90-minute sessions, and have to rotate between skaters and bikers

Seriously, who wouldn't want something else to do for teenagers?

The National Guard, the ENA members told me, have been doing some mobile skate parks. This makes sense, as one of the members pointed out, because skateboarders are fit and athletic (even the best remote control skateboards users), they're very aware of what's around them, and they're disciplined enough to work at the same tricks over and over.

I'm going to start mocking up a Web site for them. It'll be a volunteer deal, and I'm going to do a combination of static design and using Blogger as a content management tool, much like I do for this site and a few others that I run.

I'll keep you posted; I'm excited about this project.