Limelight Theatre Works would like to “take you on a strange journey” at The Majestic Theatre next weekend.
Limelight’s third annual production of “The Rocky Horror Show” demands its cast, crew and audience “let go of their inhibitions,” said Tyler McMahon, co-founder of Limelight and director of the production.
“Rocky Horror” urges viewers to accept the weirder side of life. First-time viewers of the musical might have some doubts about the show’s characters, content and lack of clothing, but “sometimes, you have to just let that go and be a guy out there in just a corset and panties and high heels,” McMahon said.
The infamous Frank-N-Furter is that guy. Actor Tim Curry perfectly portrayed the cross-dressing mad scientist in the original musical written by Richard O’Brien, which debuted on Broadway in 1975, as well as in its 1975 film adaptation, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
Neither the musical nor the film saw large success when they first released, but viewers since have grown to love the horrific weirdness, transforming the shows into cult classics and letting Rocky Horror live on in both small and large theater companies.
For Limelight, McMahon has directed all three productions. He finds the job easy because he “worked out the kinks the first year.”
However, the cast and crew has run into some challenges during this year’s performance at The Majestic Theatre.
Previously, Limelight performed “Rocky Horror” at the Feed Arts and Cultural Center and Grapes & Hops, both in Kankakee. The Majestic stage and venue space is considerably larger than the show’s previous venues, so McMahon experienced a bit of a challenge trying to maintain the show’s intimacy.
However, Michael “Mickey” Carioto, who is cast as Frank-N-Furter for the second year, is eager to put the larger stage to good use.
“It’s fun that I get to use more of the space than last time,” he said. “It’s a lot more to play with [and] a lot more to facilitate as far as controlling the scene.”
Limelight doesn’t have access to the biggest venues or the most elaborate costumes, but McMahon and the cast don’t view their situation negatively.
“We are fairly low budget,” McMahon said. “By that I mean almost nothing, which I love because it forces us to be very creative.”
That creativity sparked a now-revered scene in Limelight’s production of “Rocky Horror,” where a bed originally was required for certain scenes. Since the crew didn’t have access or the manpower to get a bed on and off stage, they used puppets instead.
Despite its limitations, Limelight does its best to put together fantastic shows. The cast attests to that magic.
Carioto has been in more than 20 productions throughout Chicagoland since graduating college but acknowledges the creative success of Limelight and its production of “Rocky Horror.”
“There’s a lot more fun happening,” Carioto said. “There’s no fear of creating relationships within the cast, and [I like] being able to improvise with scenes and really work through all of the possibilities.”
The cast has had a great time rehearsing the show — and having fun while doing so — and all are excited to step on stage as their characters.
“I think my character is perfectly weird,” said Joshua Unruh on his debut role for Limelight. “I would say Riff-Raff is probably one of the weirder roles I’ve done.”
Erin Phillips, also in her debut Limelight role, agrees her character, Magenta, is unlike anything she previously has experienced.
“It’s very mature [compared to] what I’ve done in the past. This whole show is risqué, and it’s very different,” Phillips said.
The 19-year-old expressed some apprehension playing a significant role in such a rule-breaking show, but she’s maintaining positivity.
“I’m glad to be doing this challenge, and I hope that it pays off in the end,” she said.
Among newcomers Unruh and Phillips is Limelight veteran Aubrey LaLuna, the only cast member to be in all three “Rocky Horror” productions.
This year, the Limelight co-founder is expanding her “theater horizons” and transforming from an actor into a choreographer.
McMahon needed to fill the role, so the job happened onto LaLuna “a little bit by default,” she said, but she is delighted to practice new skills for the “quirky, kooky, fun” dancing of “Rocky Horror,” which is “not that intense or serious,” she explained.
So, if you want quirky dances, weird characters and a “Sweet Transvestite,” “you shall receive it in abundance” from Limelight during their shows at 7 p.m. and midnight Friday, and midnight again Oct. 27 at The Majestic Theatre at 150 N. Schuyler Ave., Kankakee.
Because of the show’s content, audience members younger than 17 must be accompanied by an adult. Doors open 30 minutes before showtime, and seating is first-come, first-serve.
“You’re not gonna see anything like this,” Phillips said.
“Come in with an open mind,” Carioto added.
“Come to laugh,” said Abby Denault, who portrays Janet Weiss.
“Just come,” McMahon said.
“But people shouldn’t come to the show expecting to be moved,” he explained. “Come to the show because you wanna have some drinks and watch some weird s---, but let it be known that Limelight does not condone drinking and driving.”
Incidentally, a cash-only bar is available at The Majestic during the performances.
Tickets are $10 each, plus fees, and can be purchased in advance online through the Brown Paper Tickets company. Extra tickets could be available to purchase at the door one hour before showtime.
For more information, find Limelight Theatre Works on Facebook.