JINHI SOUCY RAND, co-founder of Muse Arts Warehouse, is taking on directing duties for this year’s production of the musical The Rocky Horror Show at Bay Street Theatre.
As many know, JinHi hasn’t been shy about talking to others about her ongoing struggle with cancer. Her confidence , optimism, and sense of humor in the face of tribulation never fail to inspire, and there’s a certain poetry about her choosing to direct this particular show at this particular time.
We spoke to JinHi last week as rehearsals were ramping up for this seventh annual edition of the Bay Street Theatre production.1. I’d think because of the whole nature of this show, with everyone being so familiar with every word, it could be the one production that sort of runs on autopilot. Is that the case?
That’s usually the case. It’s fun for the same friends to gather every year and present this play. There are at least 20-25 in this town who could step right into any of the roles. I know people who have played almost every role, whether the original gender or not.2. But you say this year it’s a little different?
This year a part of what’s really exciting and great and fresh is only a very few of my cast members have been in it before. In fact, very few of the cast members have seen it before in Savannah.
We found some amazing fresh talent here, and I don’t think I was anticipating that. We’re looking at the script as a whole new piece.3. This obviously comes at a very difficult time for you personally. How are you able to make it work?
I actually agreed to direct this about this time last year. This is actually the last commitment I made that I’ll be able to see through. Given these difficult times I was worried whether I’d be able to.
I have actually never directed this show, and I have never been in this show before. I’ve seen every production in Savannah for almost the past ten years. I did assistant direct it two years ago under Jeff DeVincent.
It’s been pretty awesome and wonderful. The voices this year are amazing. Their takes on characters are coming from fresh eyes.4. I know why I’d say Rocky Horror is so special, but you’re the director. What’s your take on why people still love this so much?
Several reasons. Since the show was originally written and the whole way it was produced—very much without a national theatre picking it up—it had the message to very loudly and flamboyantly and with rock ‘n’ roll flair proclaim it’s all right to be who you are. And it’s all right to feel the way you do. It’s all right to give yourself over to absolute pleasure [laughs].
It’s a time of year when those of us who don’t feel that freedom are sort of given permission. It can go in any direction. I don’t know why we still need permission [laughs], but even if we don’t, we can laugh and sing and have that back and forth with the audience. With this wonderful thing that’s now so lovingly mocked.
And of course you also have the celebration of this style movie. I have a lot of young people in my cast. I have to explain it to them. I say, “Imagine you’re talking about a science fiction late night double feature picture show.”
And you know if you’re going out on a date in the ‘60s to a scary picture, there was definitely a chance that naughtiness was going to happen.
For example, there are all those references to sitting in the back row of the theater. Young people don’t understand that as well, that back then the back rows are where it was darker and people made out! Today they're more likely to gather around the glowing screen of a TV or computer.5. Wouldn’t you say the biggest difference is that attitudes toward the LGBT community have changed so drastically and so quickly in our society?
I don’t think at this point with Rocky Horror it’s possible to give any spoilers away! So ... this is the first year Rocky and Frankie are getting married legally!
Of course there are callback jokes in the script referring to various things not being legal. But we have Frankie and Rocky getting married and having a ceremony!
The whole time we’ve been working on this we were thinking, we’ve got to do something special this first year gay marriage is actually legal.
That’s the thing too about this show. Because of the Time Warp you can add things from current situations. You can be fresh every year by putting in current references.
Originally there were references from the Atomic Age through the mid-‘70s. But it’s been 40 years since the movie came out. That’s a lot of pop culture.
So let’s just say we’ve got a lot of Time Warping going on!