Rocky Horror director Scott Ferguson dishes on Memphis actor/playwright Jerre Dye. "You know he cleans his house in red pumps," Ferguson says, conspiratorially. "With a handkerchief tied to his head."
"Jerre's fearless," Ferguson says of his Dr. Frank-N-Furter in Playhouse on the Square's fourth production of Richard O'Brien's classic proto-punk fairy tale. "He immediately goes to places nobody else would go."
Dye likes the way playing Frank-N-Furter makes him feel. He likes the ridiculous narcissism and the extreme vulnerability. He knows he's not really known around town as a vocalist or musical theater guy, and that aspect of the show still scares him every time he walks on stage. But he likes going to extremes. "Never underestimate the power of platform heels," he says.
This is Ferguson's second time to mount the original live version of Rocky Horror for Playhouse on the Square. His 1998 production starred Memphis stage veteran Mark Chambers as the Sweet Transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania. Dye remembers seeing Chambers in the role, all done up in his leather and glitter. It awakened something in an otherwise introspective kid and may be the moment when he decided he wanted a career in the theater.
The look of Playhouse's Rocky Horror revival set is inspired by a theater under construction, and Ferguson promises some interesting updates to the perennial favorite. "The music is so '70s," he says, allowing that a lot has changed since audiences were first introduced to Brad the asshole, Janet the slut, Eddie the rocker, and a host of alien party animals. This revival, he says, will have a more modern edge.