Paul Russell

author • director • casting director


Rocky Horror


Studio Playhouse

"Rocky Rocks!

You will get wet, you will dance and you will have fun...

It's part rock concert, part parody, part theater, and, dare I say, part art."


Darren Cooper
The Times

Director's notes...




You enter an ancient, decaying, movie palace...

Rafters creak. Water drips. A scream. Doors slam. Lights flicker. Darkness.

Rocky Horror has come to the Garden State.

Who says New Jersey doesn't have morals?


A modest design budget was the catalyst for the overall approach artistically to this production of Rocky Horror. What could have been assessed as a challenge was an asset that successfully drove this production.

Provided pieces of stock scenery, theater maintenance scaffolding, a trunk, and Chinese take-out menus you've got a show. Rocky’s all-encompassing environment design was to present the production as if it were being staged “out of trunk” in a movie palace long ago destined for demolition. And it worked wonderfully.

The Rocky Horror design went beyond the stage. One of the goals was to present an all encompassing environment that left the visitor to wonder."Is this decaying ruin being raised, soon to be a memory or is it undergoing a long-overdue renovation to restore its former glory?" From the theater’s lobby, to the house, to the stage, the audience was intentionally immersed in an atmosphere reminiscent of an abandoned movie house in decay. Cobwebs, dust and flickering colored fluorescent lights greeted the audience as they stepped into the lobby. Venturing into the house; the neglect of upkeep (courtesy of many hours of cobweb weaving and talcum powder dusting) was evident. From the spider spun playgrounds upon the chandeliers fitted with bulbs of various shapes, size and color, to the 6 – 8 foot tall, weathered-with-age movie posters that hung scattershot on the walls, to the multi-tiered scaffolding on the stage; the audience knew that they were not in for an evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein. They would be part of the action..

Another goal was that since Rocky Horror is participation theater, the audience was to witness everything on and off stage.

Open, towering, vibrant red scaffolding inhabited the playing area leaving nearly all aspects of the production exposed; actor entrances, exits, and the backstage cross-over were fully visible. The onstage band itself was also visible to the audience, positioned under one of the tall scaffold towers.

Framing the stage was a custom-made-for-this Rocky Horror; a proscenium compiled of refuse. The stage framing garbage painted in metallic gold nodded to the fanciful, gilt gold prosceniums of grand movie palaces long since demolished. Shoes, plates, juice cartons, DVDs, abandoned and broken household items and clothing; all painted gold, framed the stage, creating a dramatic, textured encasement for the story. On occasion props, used in the production, were taken from the proscenium when needed.

And the Chinese take-out menus? Shredded. The tapered remains pasted to paper plates on curtain rods was implemented as hair for shadow puppets. Of which these Lo-Mien muppets became one of the production’s many highlights as they engaged in silhouetted behavior far beyond what can be viewed on the Spice channel.

Design notes...




I’m visual. Yet, with any visual aspect of a production I base the image upon emotion(s). Contemplating this new world for Oliver I was intrigued by exploring a physical environment that was a near bare stage strewn with fragments of London. Pieces of the ruins which we could spin and move about onstage (I’m fan of moving a show quickly in cinematic fashion with bleeds and cross fades). All of this set against stark black and white images (u.s. rear projections) from the Blitz. The u.s. projections framed by stationary fragments of a bombed-out cathedral. With great excitement, our designer, Dale Jordan, took my early musings and produced an ambitious design, of textured moving panels, puzzle-pieces surrounded by the shell of former majesty, now ruins, in which all action took place.





Studio Playhouse:


Sound Design: Adam Frank; Lighting Design: Ben Liebert; Costumes, Martha Reed, Set Design: Paul Russell; Scenic Artist: J.D. Menashe; Projections: Paul Russell; Dramaturge: Larry Veizel; Stage Managers: Amy Fox, Judi Liebert; Musical Director: Jason Neri; Choreographers: Carrie Babcock, Chris Livesy; Director: Paul Russell; Producer: Studio Playhouse


Narrator: Caroline Langford; Frank-n-Furter: Voltaire Balderrama; Janet: Jen Hanselman; Brad: Jason Romas; Riff-Raff: Robert Intile; Magenta: Teresa DeFabrizo; Columbia: Lindsay Mack; Rocky: Pete Kraljevich; Eddie: Dolly Grace; Dr. Scott: Bob Caruso

Company: Michael Bellina, Jeanette Bonner, Jay Brancato, Eddie Capuano, Alexis Dodge, Claudia Eberly, Heather Favretto, Terry Holusha, Ben Liebert, Heather Muller, Lea Pop, Leah Read, Evan Schupak, Cate Sheehy, Justin Stone, Denise Stinson, Eric Zales & Elliot (as himself) is owned & managed by Beach 4 Prods.
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