BY DAVID SCARISBRICK | The Daily Tar Heel
With four actors, four chairs and a keyboard, Company Carolina presents what could be considered the “Inception” of theatrical performances.
Tonight, Company Carolina opens its rendition of “[title of show]” — which originally premiered in the New York Musical Theater Festival.
The show follows four nobodies living in New York who try to write a musical for the New York Musical Theatre Festival about four nobodies in New York trying to write a musical for the New York Musical Theatre Festival.
“It’s very metatheatrical,” said Clare Shaffer, the student director.
Shaffer has been simultaneously directing “[title of show]” and “The Rocky Horror Show” since early in the summer.
She said she is excited most by the dynamic of the “[title of show]” cast.
“This show is all about relationships — I want the audience to be drawn in by the characters,” Shaffer said.
“Since auditions I knew I had the perfect cast. Their natural dynamic as people is more than I could have asked for.”
Bryce Edwards, a freshman and the assistant director, said he was struck by the actors’ cohesion from the beginning of the creative process.
“They were their characters before rehearsal even began,” Edwards said.
“It doesn’t feel like you’re watching a written musical. It feels like you’re watching four friends goofing around on stage. They’re weird and funny, and they remind you of your friends back home. They’re real.”
Blayne Telling, who portrays Susan in the show, said she felt the authenticity of the performance’s characters.
“It feels like you could walk up to these characters on the street and have a conversation with them,” Telling said.
“The process of putting so much time and energy into any sort of project — not just a musical — is universal.”
The performance features multiple obscure Broadway references, but Jake Springfield, who plays Jeff, said audience members do not need to be theater buffs to appreciate the show.
“Even if you haven’t been in theater before, you will have had these friends. Every group of friends has inside jokes,” Springfield said.
Edwards said the show encompasses the full spectrum of human emotion.
“There are moments that will make you think, and then there are moments that will make you get really nostalgic and tear up,” Edwards said.
“You’ll feel uncomfortable — in a good way — and there will be a lot of moments that will make you laugh.”
Shaffer said she hopes that the audience can have fun with the wild humor of the performance — and still come away with a new appreciation for friendships.
“This show has everything: half-naked guys and girl-on-girl action,” Shaffer said.
“The audience needs to embrace the quirkiness. You can’t stop to think so much; you just have to let it wash over you.”
By Carson Blackwelder | The Daily Tar Heel
Let’s do the time warp again — and again, and again.
While many have reinvented “The Rocky Horror Show,” Pauper Players provides a fresh interpretation of the musical by director Clare Shaffer.
The iconic red lips, symbolically portrayed by Maggie Poole, welcomed Saturday night’s sold-out crowd.
Accompanied by the live jazz band’s energetic score, Poole tossed condoms as an ensemble of lingerie-clad Phantoms seduced unsuspecting audience members.
Audience participation was rampant throughout the show, as onlookers were encouraged to applaud after their favorite numbers and throw props up and behind them.
With the show’s cult following, there is an inherent danger that audience members might shout lines and lyrics, and Pauper’s production fell victim to this.
But Dr. Frank ‘n’ Furter, played by Quinn Matney, responded well to this, pointing in the direction of the outcry and working it into the score.
The cast milked every moment for what it was worth, and the audience responded favorably.
At his entrance, narrator Doug Pass inched across the stage, pausing at certain moments, not speaking, as he allowed time for the audience to react to his Scrooge-like stature.
The well-received comedic pauses continued, as Dr. Frank ‘n’ Furter, let the word ‘anticipation’ linger, momentarily unfinished, during his notable number “Sweet Transvestite.”
Shaffer’s adaptation soared because of the Phantoms, which she incorporated as choreographed props, rather than background characters.
They morphed into Brad and Janet’s car, Dr. Frank ‘n’ Furter’s ornate chair and other mansion decor.
From their life-like sound effects of a squeaking door to an oddly convincing portrayal of a bearskin rug, the Phantoms dominated in the first act.
Unlike the Phantoms’ convincing embodiment of props, the inanimate props were lackluster.
Dr. Frank ‘n’ Furter’s laboratory equipment, the sonic oscillator, had the potential to wow, but was made cheaply.
All of the actors held their own vocally with the iconic songs.
Janet, played by Amberly Nardo, displayed her wide vocal range, hitting the high notes as well as the gravelly, sultry ones.
When the microphones of Eddie and Rocky malfunctioned, Pauper avoided catastrophe with the arrival of intermission, when their audio issues were resolved.
The energy of the show wavered after intermission when fun Phantom-work faded, the most popular songs passed and character development reigned.
But at curtain call, the cast revived the time warp, the audience dancing along with enthusiastic pelvic thrusts.
Originally published November 11, 2012 in The Daily Tar Heel
By Josephine Yurcaba | The Daily Tar Heel
Men in corsets and studded heels, a shimmering gold Speedo and orgies abound in the Pauper Players’ fall show.
The scientific and sexual feather boa-fantasy known as “The Rocky Horror Show” premieres tonight at midnight.
Originally a musical that opened in 1973, the 1975 film adaptation, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” developed a formidable cult following.
Amberly Nardo, Janet in the Pauper production, said she’s been nervous about the show because of its notoriety.
“A lot of people coming to the show have seen the movie so many times that they can quote every line and might yell them out,” Nardo said. “I know there’s a lot to live up to.”
Student director Clare Shaffer said the novelty and shock factor of the show drew her to it.
“I saw the film for the first time my freshman year, and I was taken aback by it,” she said. “I remember seeing the first scene when you see Frank as a transvestite and thinking, ‘Oh my God, that guy is a god.’”
Shaffer said the popularity of the production has made it a challenge to direct.
“(It’s) not because I feel a pressure to recreate the movie,” she said.
“If I tried to do that, all I would end up with is a cheap imitation and nothing new.”
But Shaffer said the audience will hear iconic songs and see familiar characters.
“A lot of the characters have been taken in a completely different direction than the movie maybe even intended,” she said.
“Rocky is — creatively — probably my greatest contribution to it.”
Rocky is Dr. Frank ‘n’ Furter’s creation. Though the movie makes Rocky’s character seem stupid, Shaffer said she took a different route.
Max Bitar, who plays Rocky, said he likes Shaffer’s dynamic version of the character.
“We’re really trying to play up the fact that he’s essentially a newborn,” Bitar said. “He’s not necessarily dumb — he’s just learning.”
Catie Poore, the costume designer, said the costumes are corsets and lingerie.
“It’s been a good learning experience trying to lace up a corset on a guy,” she said.
The cast members said the costumes and level of sexuality have made these roles stand out from previous ones.
“I’ve never worn so little clothing — ever,” Bitar said. “I’ve also never done so many risque movements on stage.
“I won’t give it away, but my head goes in a lot of places that it usually doesn’t go.”
Richard Walden, who plays Brad, said the show requires sex-pantomiming, so actors must be comfortable on stage.
“For the majority of the show I’m going to be in my tighty whities,” Walden said. “The sex scene is behind a curtain, but I still have to have sex with a guy on stage, which definitely pushed my comfort zone.”
Shaffer said the theme of lust and sexuality is explicit.
“I’m proud of the orgy (scene) because it took me weeks to make it symmetrical,” she said. “One of the notes I’ve given is, ‘You guys, the orgy’s a little heavy on stage right, could you maybe shift it over? Just make sure you’re rotating.’”
Despite its sexual nature, Bitar said the show also has some serious, emotional undertones.
“Clare made it not all just frivolous and spectacle and sex,” Bitar said.
“She really made sure that we understood that this show has heart.”
Shaffer said audiences should prepare to be shocked, yet impressed.
“It’s a very emotional and a very raw show.”
Contact the desk editor at email@example.com.
Originally published November 8, 2012 in The Daily Tar Heel.
Reviews, previews, and other coverage of Shaffer shows.