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Lakewood Ranch couple takes on 'The Rocky Horror Show'

The show opens at the Manatee Performing Arts Center on Oct. 19 and runs through Nov. 5.

The cast and crew of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" rehearse on Oct. 8. The show opens on Oct. 19.
The cast and crew of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" rehearse on Oct. 8. The show opens on Oct. 19.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer
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“You’re a hotdog, Frank-N-Furter.” 

Griffyn Holcomb said that’s his favorite line from “The Rocky Horror Show” because it’s silly, cleverly written and just so simple. 

Holcomb is directing a production of "Rocky Horror" for the Manatee Performing Arts Center. While you might have seen the movie once or twice or a hundred times, Holcomb and the cast have put their own spin on the cult classic, which they describe as 1950s bubblegum pop meets gothic punk.

“It’s very neon, bright lights, but dark, depressing and murderous, so we try to straddle that line between the two,” he said. “A lot of it is pretty brand new to how 'Rocky' has been staged. Our set is unique, the way we choreographed a lot of the songs and the nuances that Cheyenne has added. A lot of the choreography for the phantoms and cast themselves, I’ve never seen in a Rocky production.”

Cheyenne, Griffyn’s wife, is the show’s choreographer and also plays a phantom. The Holcombs met in the Sarasota High School theater program when Cheyenne was a freshman and Griffyn was a sophomore. Now, the pair reside in Lakewood Ranch.    

Lakewood Ranch residents Cheyenne and Griffyn Holcomb met in their high school theater program. Now, they're working on a production of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" at the Manatee Performing Arts Center.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer

Rocky marks a debut for both husband and wife at the performing arts center. In a role reversal, it’ll be the first time Cheyenne is on stage performing and the first time Griffyn will be off stage directing.

Both were part of MPAC’s productions of “Beauty and the Beast” and “My Fair Lady,” but Cheyenne was backstage on the crew, and Griffyn was onstage acting. 

Having prior relationships with some of the cast members gave the new director a level of comfort stepping into the role. There are 14 cast members, some are familiar faces around MPAC, but many are new to the theater. 

“In all my years of performance and creative arts, this is the most talented cast I’ve ever seen,” Griffyn said. “We have a brilliant mix of really developed comedic timing as well as hitting some emotional depths. All of our characters go through a transformation at the end.”

Of course, the production pays homage to the movie, but don’t expect a line by line copy. Barry Bostwick, who played Brad, was surprised to hear that “Once in a While” made it into the show. 

The couple met Bostwick on Sept. 30 when he performed at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Griffyn is the assistant technical director at the Van Wezel. 

“‘Once in a While’ is a song that’s traditionally known as the most boring song in the show. It was cut from the movie,” Cheyenne said. “We kind of took that as a challenge and found a way to make it more fun for the audience viewing it and to keep the pace lively.” 

Griffyn said his wife’s flashy choreography for the number embodies the muses of Disney’s “Hercules.” 

Anthony Hoskins and Daniel Pelissier play Rocky and Dr. Frank-N-Furter.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer

Another departure from watching the movie is that, for the safety of the actors, no outside projectiles are allowed. Part of the film’s infamy comes from the audience throwing rice, toast and hotdogs at the screen, items that could hit someone in the eye and make a huge mess.

But only outside projectiles are banned. The theater will be offering a pre-show sale of safe projectiles, including bubbles, newspaper and playing cards. Shouting expletives at Brad is also allowed and encouraged.

Beyond the racy content, foul language is one more reason to leave the kids at home. No one under 18 will be allowed in the theater. "Rocky Horror "is grown-up fun.

“You can’t go and not have a good time. I love that it’s B-movie comedy, but I also love that there is a message behind it of freeing yourself from the shame of finding pleasure and enjoying your life wherever you can,” Cheyenne said. “One of my favorite lines from the show is ‘Don’t dream it. Be it.’ It’s a very empowering message to leave audiences with.”



Lesley Dwyer

Lesley Dwyer is a staff writer for East County and a graduate of the University of South Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing, she freelanced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lesley has lived in the Sarasota area for over 25 years.

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