In the Artists' Repertory Theatre production of "The Rocky Horror Show Live!," the character of Dr. Scott — the Nazi-loving, world-domination craving, wheelchair-bound rival mad scientist — is played by a woman.
For Lilly Dale Murray, the gender-neutral casting is no big deal. She nabbed the role and made it her own in last year's production, and in this year's incarnation — which reopens tonight after a mid-December hiatus for a New Year's Eve season run — she's even more maniacally funny.
And don't even get me started on what she does when she jabs her finger in the air, which has become a trademark of hers in the show. We caught up with her via email to ask about what it's like to play the heavily accented Scott.
Question: Go in depth a little on your character. What kind of person is Dr. Scott? Likes, hopes, fears, dreams, etc.?
Answer: Dr. Scott is a cross between a mad Nazi scientist and Effie Trinket. She is very competitive, and knows she is outgunned with Frank 'N' Furter. She is very strict with her morals, and yet a dirty girl (LOL). She is loyal to her family, yet easily distracted. Her hope is to find and rescue Eddie (her nephew). Her fear is to be outed as a Nazi; her dream is world domination, and, well, sex.
Did gender-blind casting add any wrinkles to the role?
Just a few word changes, gender-related in the script. Director Daniel Chavez Jr. was very generous to let me make her feminine, as opposed to playing the part as a man.
What is the wildest thing you've seen in terms of audience reaction/participation at "Rocky"?
I think each night is different in the audience participation. We really appreciate the audience having a good time! I love the sea of toilet paper at my entrance. I think the craziest thing was a woman in the front row last year, New Year's Eve, was so inebriated she passed out cold toward the beginning, and slept through the entire show. So, we decorated her. Kisses, confetti, streamers, newspaper, etc. So fun!
What is the hardest part of the show for you as an actor?
Not laughing at the other actors. Daniel's ad-libs, Peter Allwine (as Riff Raff) is so funny, as is Danielle Jorn (as Magenta), and the rest, so talented and funny. And ending the show every year makes me cry. We become a family.
Did you have any experience with "Rocky" before the ART production?
I am an avid moviegoer, and was a part of the cult following of the film. Probably saw it 100 times. Cut high school to see it at the Blackstone UA (the old United Artists movie theater on Blackstone Avenue).
OK, the question I've always wanted to ask: How do you make your finger bend that way?
I have the rare gift of being double jointed in my hands, and I have osteoarthritis. The combination of these gifts make my hands do crazy things! Daniel asked if there was a physical quirk I could do with this role. When he saw my hands, he laughed and said that will do!
Anything else you'd like to say?
"Rocky Horror Live" is a show I hope to be a part of for a long time. Daniel Chavez Jr. is a genius, and a wonderful director and a joy to work with. I love my "Rocky" family, and enjoy the changes each year. Thank you to my wonderful husband, Bearrrr. Since our wedding anniversary is Halloween, he knows what we'll be doing, and he is a great supporter of my theatrical endeavors.
"The Rocky Horror Show Live!," 8 p.m. today, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday, Severance Theatre, 1401 N. Wishon Ave. rockyhorrorfresno.com, (800) 838-3006. $20, $15 students and seniors (New Year's Eve show $28).
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6373, email@example.com and donaldbeearts on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.