By Amanda Sivan Kaufman
It was time to audition. It was time to show the best talent possible, to be better than the competition and win recognition. When he went out in front of a panel of women judges, Andy Velez walked the walk of a man who was about to show all he could be—while singing a song, wearing high heels and no shirt. That is how he was able to nail the role for Rocky in Plattsburgh State’s upcoming production of The Rocky Horror Show.
“It was the most awkward but funny interview I have ever done,” Velez said with a smile. “I guess they wound up picking me because I looked good with my shirt off.”
Velez, who has had a wide range of roles from an apostle in Jesus Christ Super Star to the bartender in The Laramie Project, originally wanted to star as Dr. Frank N. Furter, who is the bizarre otherworldly transsexual that creates Rocky in the show.
He says he had been a “Rocky fanatic for a while,” and has high hopes for the premier on Oct. 26, the weekend before Halloween.
The play, written by Richard O’Brien and directed by Antonette Knoedl, is a slightly different version than the cult classic 1975 musical film The Rocky Horror Picture Show, about a crazed transsexual alien scientist who takes an unknowing couple into his castle, just before creating Rocky who he dubs as a masterpiece sex object.
Velez says each version has a part the other doesn’t, but this time around it’s going to be different from both under the new director.
“When she was talking about it at the theater schmooze, she said this might seem different. A lot of people will be thinking this isn’t the Rocky Horror Picture Show,” Velez said. “This is the Rocky Horror Show. It’s just her Rocky Horror Show.”
Knoedl, like many in the cast, is fan who is very familiar with the show. In the past, she had roles in it such as one of the phantoms in the castle. This year is her first time directing the play.
Despite any change that may be noticed by fans, nothing in the show has been cut out and it will run for its full 1 hour and 30 minutes without intermission.
Alongside Rocky is the character Janet Weiss, played by Elizabeth Abair who just happens to be a housemate of Velez. The show, known for its high amount of sexual content, pins the two together in many awkward moments such as a sex scene, Velez said.
According to Velez, the housemates “went into the show knowing” what they were getting themselves into and that they were aware there was “going to be a lot of sexual content.”
Part of the Rocky Horror Shows requires actors being able to handle strange roles in front of an audience, no matter who is attending.
“The funny thing is, I believe, most of us are having our parents coming up to watch this too,” Velez said, but he also noted that he has yet to have a scene that embarrassed him.
So far, he says the production is running ahead of schedule and it will be a “truly spectacular show” when finished. When it premiers, the audience will have the chance to experience the show in its fullest—as they will become interactive with the experience.
“If you want a good seat, get the aisle seat if you can,” he said. “There’s a lot of audience interaction.”
Aside from the call outs, lines that fans have made up to be shouted in between dialogue for humor’s sake, Velez said there is way more in store. Until then, he’ll be rehearsing with the rest of the cast, minus his shirt and heels.