High-heeled and waxed, UMSL student steps into ‘Rocky Horror’ role

UMSL students (from left) Brianda Cepeda, Brian J. Rolf and Nick Smith star in the student production of “The Rocky Horror Show,” which will be staged Oct. 10-13 at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. (Photo by Jonathan R White Photography)

Forty years after “The Rocky Horror Show” debuted on a London stage the musical continues to be a fan favorite. Much of the fanfare flamed by the 1975 film “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” which generated a worldwide cult following.

This month students at University of Missouri–St. Louis will put their own mark on the campy cult classic when it kicks off a four-day run Oct. 10-13 at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center at UMSL. Students with UMSL’s Department of Theatre, Dance and Media Studies will perform the play.

Leading the time warp in stockings and heels as Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter will be Brian J. Rolf, a junior majoring in theatre and dance at UMSL and a resident of the Dogtown neighborhood in St. Louis.

“The musical is very popular with audiences, and I think it’s a great way to kick off the season,” he said.

UMSL student Brian J. Rolf in costume as Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter. (Photo by Jonathan R White Photography)

Rolf grew up going to midnight showings of the Rocky Horror movie so was well acquainted with the musical. Landing the role of Frank ‘N’ Furter was a dream come true.

“There was stiff competition to get the role because of all the strong talent in the department,” he said. “I’m over the moon. It’s one of those bucket list characters for me.”

People familiar with the midnight movie showings know that half the fun of the film is the audience participation. While Rolf expects callbacks from the audience, there won’t be full-out interaction where the audience throws items at appropriate points in the movie.

“No toast, no rice, no squirt guns,” he said.

Rolf had no apprehension donning Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter’s skimpy outfit. He does admit being “scared to death” of one fashion accessory – the stiletto shoes he has to wear.

“Three and a half hours in heels – it’s a whole new world,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve never worked in heels. Plus, I can’t go buy my shoes off the shelf. I wear size 13 Wide.”

His shoe fairy came in the form of Felia Davenport, assistant professor in costume design at UMSL, who successfully scoured the Internet looking for the proper footwear.

Rolf’s transformation into the Frank ‘N’ Furter character didn’t just involve donning shoes, stockings and a corset. He also had to physically transform into the character and that meant shaving the majority of his body.

“Pretty much everything from the neck down,” he said. “Anything that you could see in a bikini has to go.”

The experience made him more sympathetic to women and what they go through.

“I told my girlfriend, ‘After this, honey, shaving your legs and wearing heels is now an optional for you. If you want to do that cool, but please don’t feel that you ever have to do that for me.'”

“The Rocky Horror Show” will get under way with a show at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 10 in the E. Desmond and Mary Ann Lee Theater at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center at UMSL. There will be an evening performance at 7:30 p.m. on Oct 11. That will be followed by two shows on Oct. 12: a 2 p.m. matinee and an evening show at 7:30 p.m. The play will wrap with a 2 p.m. matinee performance on Oct. 13.

The performance is appropriate for ages 13 and up; children under four will not be admitted into the theater. Tickets are $5-$10. Call 314-516-4949 or visit touhill.org to purchase tickets.

Media coverage:
Riverfront Times


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