Emerson Umbrella: Rocky Horror Live In Studio

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Everyone loves a little Rocky Horror. Who doesn’t? It’s Halloweekend! But today at the WERS studios we had the pleasure of experiencing a two for one sampler from the cast of the Emerson Umbrella for Live Music Week.

Performing songs from the cult favorite, Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show, as well as the powerful production Next To Normal, the cast delivered a rendition that was as high energy as promised.

Going into the Emerson Umbrella’s fifth season, director Brian Boruta has taken on the challenge of delivering two shows in quick succession, but today in the studios his efforts paid off.

The cast started the set with a Rocky Horror classic, and “Time Warped” in style, bringing together high power vocals with unmistakable theatric chemistry. Even packed together around mics in the studio, the excitement was tangible. Boruta seconded the motion: “Rocky Horror is like a party onstage… I feel like it’s almost self indulgent because the actors get to go onstage, it’s a short show, its only like 90 minutes and from front to back, such high energy. It’s literally like performing a party every night onstage, so it’s super fun.”

Boruta brought in some Rocky Horror veterans for this version of the show as well as some new faces. “About half of our cast is back from the first time that we did it two years ago, half of the cast is ‘virgins’,” Boruta laughed. “Rocky Horror terminology. So it’s been a fun mix.”

Despite this play being such a cult classic, the Emerson Umbrellas bring a special intimacy to the show that was detectible in-studio. “We really tried to bring it out into the audience this time. When you go to see the movie you do all the call backs and the audience participation and all that, but it is still just on that screen. With the live performance we really tried to bring it out into the house, bring it out to the people, really give them a fun experience and I think that’s what people can expect when they come to see the show.”

Truly showing their dynamic range, the cast switched gears to perform a song from Next To Normal called “Just Another Day”, a song that evokes just as much emotion from the cast as it will from those in the audience. It was packed with heart-felt lyrics that were brought to life via singing. “Superboy and the Invisible Girl” followed suit. Next To Normal proved the cast can go from Rocky Horror fun to serious business in a hot minute. “It’s like the exact opposite,” Boruta said. “It’s incredibly intense. Through the rehearsal process a lot of people’s personal stories from the cast and crew started to come out and we really started to bond. So, I think that sort of strong bond and that sense of community is really important for this show and it’s been one of my favorite parts of being able to direct it.”

Closing out the in-studio, the cast performed another song from Next To Normal, “You Don’t Know/ I Am the One”, beautifully accompanied by some edgy electric guitar riffs and accented with violin and piano. With harmonizing male and female lead vocals, the song flowed through staccato rhythms and melodic instrumentals.

Though this double whammy was a challenge, Boruta’s efforts paid off over our airwaves with a great performance. “It’s been a lot of fun and it’s actually been a really easy process which is really great, so now it’s just time to get the audience in the seats.” Rocky Horror opened last night and runs through November 3rd at the Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts. Next to Normal opens on November 9th.

By Alexandra Parker
Photo by Libby Webster

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