1. Rocky Horror Picture Show
2. H.U.N.K.S. Sketch Comedy
3. Les Misérables / Sister Act at Rainbow Stage (tie)
This fall’s nine-show run of the Rocky Horror Picture Show (RHPS) was nothing close to ordinary theatre, and that’s exactly how the producers wanted it.
“We definitely gave (the audience) permission to be as interactive and wild and crazy as possible. So we encouraged people dressing up, and dancing, and singing along,” Dan De Jaeger, who pulled double duty as the lead role and producer of the show, says.
De Jaeger is one third of Wasteland Productions, who put on Evil Dead: The Musical the previous year. They were inspired to do their own version of RHPS during an annual screening of the film at The Park Theatre.
“We all thought ‘well this just makes sense,’” De Jaeger says. “That’s really what Wasteland Productions is about, is trying to give Winnipeg audiences something that’s not being done here, which is those more interactive or wild or crazy ways of experiencing live theatre rather than sitting in a seat and watching something unfold.”
The RHPS has its own well-established lore and history of audience provocation, and this iteration was no different. De Jaeger cast Alan McKenzie – who he bills as one of the city’s best improvisers – in the role of the narrator.
At one moment in the show, he responded to the audience’s traditional heckling of “Boring!” by taking revenge and spitting the contents of his brandy glass back in their faces.
“And every night they would gasp because a bunch of people got sprayed with goo from his mouth, and he would say ‘I’m sorry, did that get you? Well that’s what you get for calling me boring.’”
Though it was an unexpected move, it fit with the audience’s expectations for the show, De Jaeger says. “It was just one of those moments where every night, people got it. They cheered and he wasn’t called boring as much after that for the remainder of the performance.”
Wasteland Productions’ version of the RHPS ran from Oct 22 to 31 at The Park Theatre.