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UPDATE: Rocky Horror production shut down, deemed too risque

12:27 AM, Sep 18, 2011   |    comments
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  • G-rated frame from R-rated dance rehearsal, Rocky Horror Show, Carrollton, GA
  • Director Michelle Rougier and actors from Carrollton production of The Rocky Horror Show, September 14, 2011
  • Advertisement for Rocky Horror Show, on City of Carrollton's website, was still on-line on September 14, 2011
    

UPDATE (Sat., Sept. 17, 2011) -- "The show must go on," the director of the Carrollton production of "The Rocky Horror Show" tells 11Alive News.

In an email Saturday, Director Michelle Rougier said a fundraising campaign is set to begin Monday to try to present the musical at a private venue possibly in January.

"We have found a producer for our show who will match donations up to $5,000," she wrote. "Looks like I am going to try and secure a location this coming week and we may have a show in January/February.  After securing the venue I need to work on getting the rights."

Rougier said she expects to have a donation website up and running in the next couple of days.

The mayor of Carrollton, Wayne Garner, ruled last week that the production was risque and therefore not suitable for the city-owned theater that had contracted with Rougier and her theater group of actors, singers, dancers, musicians and crew -- and had committed $2,500 of taxpayer funds in up-front production costs -- for four performances in October.

Rougier immediately began trying to secure private donors and a private venue for the production.

A Facebook page in support of the production was created last week and, as of Saturday, had attracted 2,400 "likes."  The page was promoting a demonstration to take place outside Carrollton City Hall on Wednesday, September 21.  One post had said the time would be 10:00 am, but now organizers are saying, on a separate Facebook page, that the time will be 5:00 pm.

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CARROLLTON, Ga. (Wed., Sept. 14, 2011) -- An old movie, an even older stage play, and a new controversy:

We're talking about a famous movie -- or infamous, as some consider it -- "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."

It is a cult classic, a musical that was released in 1975 and is still playing at art houses and neighborhood movie theaters, such as at Atlanta's Plaza Theater every Friday at midnight.

But it is for "adults only." It is rated R.

The just-as-durable stage version, "The Rocky Horror Show," on which the movie was based, dates to 1973, and the play has just been banned from the City of Carrollton's Cultural Arts Center.

Controversy has ensued, exposing a culture clash in Carrollton.

For now, it's curtains for "The Rocky Horror Show" production.

All was fine until this week.

The director of the Carrollton production, Michelle Rougier, and a company of young and energetic performing artists were thrilled when the city agreed to let them present, in October, four performances of the original stage version, at the city-owned, 266-seat Cultural Arts Center in downtown Carrollton.

But after months of planning, this week someone showed Carrollton's mayor and his staff a brief video of one of the rehearsals.

The choreography is R-rated, as the cast readily acknowledges. 

A cast member had shot the video and posted it on his personal Facebook page.  

A copy of the risque rehearsal video made its way to the city manager, who showed it to the mayor.

"It was too risque for them, but it's 'The Rocky Horror Show,'" Rougier said Wednesday afternoon.

She and the actors are asking -- what was the city expecting from "The Rocky Horror Show"?

"You would imagine they knew, since they were the ones who signed all the contracts and got everything together and did all the advertising, that they knew what Rocky Horror was all about," Rougier said. "[The play] is a farce. It's making fun of all of the 1950s science fiction shows. It should not be taken seriously."

Mayor Wayne Garner takes it seriously.

He told 11Alive's Jon Shirek, from his City Hall office on Wednesday, that he was not expecting an R-rated show on a city-owned stage.

"I found [the video he saw of the rehearsal] very offensive," he said, "not in keeping with the community of Carrollton, if you will."

So Garner overruled the community leaders who make up the theater's board; they are the ones who gave the go-ahead for the show and committed $2,500 of city money toward the production.

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Here's how the city's website was advertising the play. 

Carroll County Community Theatre presents Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show, a rock musical. It's outrageous! It's bizarre! It's hilarious! And it's coming to the Carrollton Cultural Arts Center, live! Campy to the hilt, this show is the craziest cavalcade of goofball, glam, sci-fi/horror mayhem you'll ever see. Follow squeaky-clean sweethearts Brad and Janet on an adventure they'll never forget, with the scandalous Frank'n'Furter, rippling Rocky and vivacious Magenta. Get ready for a night of fun, frolics and frivolity in this thrilling production of Richard O'Brien's classic original script! So sharpen those stilettos for the rockiest ride of your life! Don't Dream It - See It! Production dates are October 27 & 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, October 29 at 2 p.m. & a late night showing at 10 p.m. at the Carrollton Cultural Arts Center. Tickets $10. For more information call 770-838-1083.

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Actor Jarrett Jones said the mayor's decision to shut down the play offends the members of the show's cast and crew who are taxpayers just like those Garner said he is protecting from being offended. 

Jones said that he and the others have just as much right to use the taxpayers' stage for theater that is not always "polite."

"The show is adult-themed," Jones said. "But if you focus solely on the more lascivious aspects of the play, then you lose out on all the wonderful ideas -- of things about embracing eccentricity, or these ideas of metamorphosis, the ideas of taking hold of adventure and really living in the moment.... [A play] shouldn't be something that's always polite or always something that's easy to grasp. Why would you go to the theater if you're always going to see 'Barney and Friends?' It should be something that makes you think, that puts some fire underneath you, that either makes you enraged or absolutely delighted. They should accept that it's not always going to be 'Mary Poppins' or 'Little Mermaid.'"

The theater group had planned to admit only adults to the four performances, and had arranged to distribute to those audiences all of the party props that have been part of the zany, audience participation showings of the movie version.

Mayor Garner is convinced there is no place for adult-oriented plays at the city's Cultural Arts Center.

"I know this community well," he said. "If that play was allowed to proceed... we'd be run out of town."

"It frightens me to a point where I'm worried for the local artists here in Carrollton," Rougier said. "Is this [attitude] going to move into the art gallery? It's definitely censorship in a way that will have a negative impact on the art community within our community."

Garner said that from now on, he will make sure that only G, PG and PG-13 types of plays are approved for the city-owned stage.

"The city has every right not to do certain shows," Rougier said. "But what this is, is this is something that was approved at some faction of our government, and it has now been disapproved by another faction of our government because of censorship.  I mean, they are censoring what they think should be on the stage in Carrollton, rather than giving it a chance or even giving me a chance as director to change things, to make it less risque."

Garner said Rougier and the others are perfectly welcome to put on the play anywhere they want in Carrollton on some private stage.

"That's my opinion," the mayor said. "I know those people have worked hard on this, and maybe in some other setting, it may be appropriate, but it is not appropriate for [the city-owned theater in] Carrollton, Georgia."

On Wednesday, the play's cast and crew said they would try to find some private sponsors and put the show on a different stage -- in Carrollton.

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